Badminton: Nishimoto, Yamaguchi take honours at Japan Open

Kenta Nishimoto (left) and Akane Yamaguchi won the men's and women's singles titles at the Japan Open. PHOTOS: AFP

OSAKA (AFP) - Home favourites Kenta Nishimoto and Akane Yamaguchi thrilled the crowd at badminton's Japan Open in Osaka on Sunday (Sept 4), winning the men's and women's singles titles for the host country.

World No. 21 Nishimoto stunned Chinese Taipei's No. 4 seed Chou Tien-chen 21-19, 21-23, 21-17 to finally claim his first international title, having lost in his previous six final appearances.

Nishimoto's win gave the home crowd something to cheer after Japan's No. 2 seed Kento Momota lost in the first round earlier in the week.

The 28-year-old Nishimoto said he was "really happy and also a bit relieved" after landing his first title.

"I was very worried going into the third game," said Nishimoto.

"He's a veteran player with a lot of skill who knows how to play cleverly, so I had to be careful right until the end."

Chou, who reached the semi-finals of last week's World Championships in Tokyo, is known as badminton's comeback king but he could not find a way past Nishimoto in the third game.

"I just tried to keep pushing," said Chou.

"It worked in the second set but in the third set I made some mistakes and it was difficult to move closer."

Yamaguchi gave Japan another gold medal to celebrate when she beat South Korea's An Se-young 21-9, 21-15 in the women's final.

Yamaguchi retained her world title last week in Tokyo and she still had enough left in the tank to win her third tournament of the year.

"Me and my opponent were both really tired so I wanted to take control of the game right from the start," said the 25-year-old world No. 1.

"I had to take it to the limit, and when I hit that limit, I had the crowd to push me forward."

In women's doubles, South Korea's Jeong Na-eun and Kim Hye-jeong beat their compatriots Baek Ha-na and Lee Yu-lim 23-21, 28-26 to win the title.

Chinese pair Liang Weikeng and Wang Chan took the honours in men's doubles, beating Denmark's Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen 21-18, 13-21, 21-17.

In mixed doubles, Thailand's Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai beat Japan's Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino 16-21, 23-21, 21-18.

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