Akane Yamaguchi with her BWF World Championships medal and trophy.© AFP
Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi retained her badminton women’s world title in front of her home crowd in Tokyo on Sunday, beating China’s Chen Yufei 21-12, 10-21, 21-14. The top-seeded Yamaguchi, who won her first world title last year in the Spanish city of Huelva, had to dig deep to see off the challenge of Olympic champion Chen. Chen was bidding to become the first player from badminton powerhouse China to win a women’s singles world title since 2011. China has won a total of 15 women’s singles world titles — five times more than any other country — but number four seed Chen was the nation’s first women’s world finalist since 2014.
The 25-year-old Yamaguchi cruised through to the final without dropping a game this week in Tokyo.
She steadily turned the screw on Chen in the first game before sealing the deal with a no-nonsense smash.
Chen came roaring back in the second game and levelled the match when Yamaguchi swatted a return into the net.
Yamaguchi regained the upper hand with a big early lead in the third game and she made it stick, closing out the match when Chen hit a return into the net.
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The win gave Yamaguchi her second title of the year, after lifting the trophy at the All England Open in March.
The women’s singles competition at this year’s worlds was hit by injury, with 2019 champion PV Sindhu of India and Japan’s 2017 winner Nozomi Okuhara both pulling out on the eve of the tournament.
In the men’s final earlier in the day, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen claimed his second world title with a 21-5, 21-16 win over Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn.
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