Finally, after going 23 events in two years without a title, Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin signalled they were back to title-winning form. The Olympic champions dashed the hopes of home pair Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi to claim the DAIHATSU Japan Open 2023 in straight games.
“Our form hasn’t been good in recent times, but by winning this tournament, it’s clear what we need to work on. This time we figured out how to bring out the best of us,” said Wang Chi-Lin.
“Every game starts from zero.”
Hoki and Kobayashi, attempting to become the first Japanese men’s doubles winners in the 46-year history of the tournament, had spells of great play but were undone by a number of errors. Once the opening game slipped from their grasp, the Japanese couldn’t sustain their level, and it was smooth sailing for Lee/Wang as they closed it out 21-19 21-13.
However, the hosts could savour a bit of history in mixed doubles, with Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino becoming the first Japanese pair to win a home title. Watanabe and Higashino reversed the result from last year’s final as they came up with the goods in the best match of the day, beating Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai 17-21 21-16 21-15.
No Stopping An Se Young
The juggernaut called An Se Young continued to roll on, as she picked up her seventh title from 10 finals this year.
An, who will become the new world No.1 when the latest rankings are announced, paced her game to perfection against He Bing Jiao, beating her Chinese opponent for the fifth straight time, 21-15 21-11. An became only the second Korean women’s singles winner at the Japan Open, after Hwang Sun Ai in 1981.
“Really happy to win this Japan Open. At times it was hard, but the crowd’s cheering helped me,” said the champion.
World No.1 Viktor Axelsen put himself in the best frame of mind for the World Championships on home turf with his fourth title this year, and his second at the Japan Open. The Dane benefitted from a slow start by Jonatan Christie, going 13-0 up in the opening game, before the Indonesian mounted a stronger challenge in the second.
Axelsen however recovered from 8-13 down to wrap up the match 21-7 21-18.
In women’s doubles, Kim So Yeong/Kong Hee Yong avenged last week’s Korea Open final defeat to Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan with a 21-17 21-14 result to recapture the title they’d won in 2019.
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