Ai Fukuhara failed in her bid to become the youngest national champion in women’s singles at the age of 16 years and two months when she was defeated in full sets in the sixth round by Asami Suemasu on Saturday.
Fukuhara struggled to return Suemasu’s backhand strokes and dropped three straight games 12-10, 11-4, 11-3 before she came back to win the next three 11-7, 14-12, 11-7 and force a tie-breaker at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. In the seventh and final game, Suematsu prevailed 11-9. Rika Sato, who was crowned a national champion at the age of 17 years and one month, is so far the youngest champion among women players. Later Saturday, Fukuhara paired with An Konishi to win the women’s doubles title for the third straight year with a victory over Suemasu and partner Saki Kanazawa in the final.
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