(Badminton news) Akane Yamaguchi won her first World Championship title at the TotalEnergies event in Spain. She defeated the world number one Tai Tzu Ying who had four podium finishes prior to this tournament, Ying had never won a World Championship medal but assured herself one when she defeated PV Sindhu in the quarterfinals. It was a glorious end for the Japanese player as she won the final event of the year.
“I’ve played a lot of matches over the last few months. There were good moments and bad moments, but in the end I’m very happy with my performance and very happy with this result,” said Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi had won the bronze in 2018 at the Nanjing World Championships when she lost to PV Sindhu in the semifinals. Yamaguchi dropped only one game on her way to winning the title, she faced a real test in the quarterfinals when facing An Seyoung who had beaten her in the previous event at Indonesia. Yamaguchi had won the first game in 12 minutes as Seyoung could only win 7 points, the second game saw Seyoung fighting hard as she opened up an early lead and held onto it to take the game. In the third game, Yamaguchi kept increasing her lead on Seyoung as she had a 8-4 lead and Seyoung could only win 6 points as Yamaguchi took the final game as the match almost took an hour to finish.
Yamaguchi also secured her 350th win of her career with a win over Seyoung and in the semifinal faced Zhang Yi Man who is ranked 46th in the world. Zhang gave a tough battle to the world number 3 as she was always one or two points behind, in the first game she came close with 19 points as Yamaguchi did not succumb when lost two consecutive points before winning the game. In the second game, Zhang was leading 17-13 until Yamaguchi won four consecutive points to make it even and went on to win the match. Yamaguchi’s speed and shot retrieval paid for her victories in the quarterfinal and semifinal matches which were the longest and toughest.
Yamaguchi is now the second Japanese woman to win the World Championships after Nozomi Okuhara’s victory in 2017 where she defeated PV SIndhu in the final at Glasgow. Yamaguchi will now prepare for the Thailand Open and World Tour series at Bangkok in January.