Badminton: Yamaguchi sets up Japan Open final with An Se-young

Top seed Akane Yamaguchi beat China's Chen Yufei 15-21, 21-16, 24-22 in Osaka. PHOTO: AFP

(AFP) - World badminton champion Akane Yamaguchi beat China's Chen Yufei to reach the final of the Japan Open on Saturday, then thanked the home fans for getting her over the line.

Top seed Yamaguchi, who retained her world title last week in Tokyo, pipped Chen 15-21, 21-16, 24-22 in Osaka after a tense encounter in which both players had match points.

Yamaguchi had also beaten Chen in the world championships final last week and she prevailed again after a match that she said was about "who could tough it out the longest".

"We're in Japan and I think my win was down to the power of the crowd," said the 25-year-old.

"I had some fatigue and I felt really tired until midway through the match. Then the final game started and I just wanted to enjoy it and I started to play well and my movement improved."

Yamaguchi will play An Se-young in Sunday's final after the South Korean third seed beat Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu-ying 21-12, 14-21, 21-13.

In the men's competition, Japan's Kenta Nishimoto beat Anders Antonsen 22-20, 21-19, eliminating the Dane for the second week running to reach his first final of the season.

World No. 21 Nishimoto's opponent on Sunday will be Taiwanese fourth seed Chou Tien-chen, who beat China's Shi Yuqi 15-21, 21-19, 21-12.

Nishimoto - who became the home crowd's favourite in the men's competition after misfiring second seed Kento Momota made an early exit this week - said he hoped his "passion" would help him win the final.

"Last time was last time and today was today - I was just concentrating on each point as it came," Nishimoto said after his latest win over Antonsen, whom he also beaten in the first round last week in Tokyo.

"I know that I'll definitely be nervous in the final because I'll be playing at home but I want to enjoy it."

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