• AFP-JIJI

  • SHARE

Nozomi Okuhara dominated the women’s final at the All England Open, beating Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-12, 21-16 in Birmingham, England, on Sunday.

“Five years ago I won here and there was no pressure, this time I’m in the top five players in women’s singles so that changed things,” Okuhara said.

“But my overall play is now at a higher level, so I am very happy.”

Just months away from an Olympics on home soil, Japan also dominated the doubles with all three finals between six Japanese pairings.

Yuta Watanabe claimed both the men’s and mixed doubles titles.

Watanabe teamed up with Hiroyuki Endo to beat Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda 21-15, 17-21, 21-11 in the men’s doubles final.

Arisa Higashino was Watanabe’s partner for the mixed doubles success as they saw off Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo 21-14, 21-13.

Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara beat Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota 21-18, 21-16 in the women’s doubles final.

Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia claimed his first men’s singles title by outlasting Danish No. 2 seed Viktor Axelsen 30-29, 20-22, 21-9.

Lee won a marathon opening set that went all the way to the maximum 59 points.

The 22-year-old squandered nine game points before eventually getting over the line in his 10th try.

A tense second set followed in the same vein, but this time it was the defending champion who rallied from 18-14 down to take the match into a decisive set.

Axelsen’s far more draining route to the final, however, began to take its toll in the third set. The 2016 Olympic bronze medalist had been forced to a deciding set in three of his four previous wins this week, while Lee had not dropped a set.

“I used a lot of energy, probably too much, in the first two rounds,” said Axelsen. “He deserves to be the champion this week.”

The fresher player showed no signs of nerves as he avenged his defeat against Axelsen in last year’s All England semifinal.

“I just can’t describe my feelings now,” said Lee, who was disappointed to not have a crowd on site for his big moment. “I’m happy, sad and excited all coming in the one time. It is a very special moment for me.”

With the tournament not counting towards Olympic qualification, leading Asian badminton nations China, South Korea and Taiwan opted not to travel because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Indonesia’s team were forced to withdraw from the tournament earlier this week after a passenger on their flight to Britain tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)