(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
Japan achieves treble
Date: 3/20/2022 7:08 PM
Published by : Yash Sharma & Alan Raftery
The Japanese athletes won all three All England finals that they contested.

While Japan had clinched titles in four disciplines last year, it was partly because of a less decorated draw. However, the triple glory in this edition means more as the badminton powerhouse faced stiffer opposition. 

Masterclass by Akane Yamaguchi
The women’s singles title stays with Japan after the World Champion, Akane Yamaguchi, backs up her status as the best on the planet with an almost faultless All England week.

The final was yet another clash between Yamaguchi and Korea’s An Seyoung. The two battled five times last year and if previous encounters were anything to go by, today’s match would be a closely run affair. The quality was high, but Yamaguchi was able to deliver a robust performance with few mistakes to lift the trophy. 

The final was simply a continuation of her absolute masterclass against Chen Yu Fei in the semifinal. She cruised past the Olympic Champion. Today, she won 21-15, 21-15. 

Reflections and gratitude
This year marks a decade since Yamaguchi won her first World Junior Championships medal at just 14 years of age. Now, she stands with an All England trophy and the World Champion crown.

- I’ve never been really conscious that it has been ten years. I am surprised. I keep improving through good times and bad times. It has been a good ten years that I have kept proving myself, the 24-year-old reflected.  

- I just feel so grateful and lucky. The coaches, family, and fans: I am surrounded by people that support me and I’m thankful to them, Akane was her very polite self. 

- There are international tournaments coming up in Japan. I will like to focus on each match and keep persevering, she concluded.

Watanabe/ Higashino defend their title
Following the victories in 2018 and 2021, Yuta Watanabe/ Arisa Higashino won their third mixed doubles All England crown. It also happens to be the fifth overall title for Watanabe.

The Japanese number ones faced a daunting task as they took on their Tokyo conquerers and Olympic champions Wang Yi Lyu/ Huang Dong Ping. However, a dismal 10-2 record proved to be a useless statistic today. 

The Tokyo bronze medallists were full of confidence, given their emphatic victory over the Thai world number ones yesterday. They took their chances in a closely contested opener. Trailing in the second game, they caught up with the Chinese at 16-16. 

- We attacked a lot, but the opponents defended really well. We need to analyze the match before the next tournament, Wang offered.

- Yuta’s game made it easy for me to defend Wang’s smashes, Higashino explained.

Higashino’s vigilant presence at the net made the difference in the end. The Japanese successfully defended their title 21-19, 21-19 in 58 minutes.

- Honestly, happy! I believe that we can still be better, so we will keep working hard, Watanabe was determined. 

- Maybe, I cannot, Watanabe laughed about equalling his coach Park Joo Bong with nine titles. 

Matsuyama/ Shida shine through
Amidst an underwhelming display by the Koreans, Nami Matsuyama/ Chiharu Shida were clearly the best pair in women’s doubles. The Japanese picked up from the Bali leg last season and played a fast and positive aggressive game throughout the tournament. 

Matsuyama/ Shida had little difficulty in the final against Zhang Shu Xian/ Zheng Yu as they led throughout to win 21-13, 21-9. Indeed, it is very impressive that the Japanese won their first All England title without dropping a game. 

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