TOKYO • The Musashino Forest Sport Plaza crowd had plenty to cheer yesterday as they not only toasted home-grown winners in men's and women's singles competition of the Japan Open for the first time since 1982, but also the fact that their two leading players are now on top of badminton's summit.
Kento Momota and Akane Yamaguchi claimed the respective titles, with the former breezing past sixth seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia 21-16, 21-13 to retain his crown, while the latter defeated compatriot Nozomi Okuhara 21-13, 21-15.
"Everyone has studied my game, and sometimes even when I play well, things don't work out. That's the difficulty I faced this year," world No. 1 Momota said.
"I wasn't in good form, and that made me nervous, coming into the Japan Open.
"I didn't get good results last week and I wasn't confident of a repeat. Winning under these conditions is something different from last year.
"After my loss (to China's Huang Yuxiang in the second round) in Indonesia, I came with the mindset to win in Japan.
World ranking for Japanese women's singles player Akane Yamaguchi, after winning the Japan Open title yesterday.
"I haven't done well at other tournaments, but I was determined not to lose here at my home event.
"So many people were rooting for me, and thanks to all of you I was able to win. I hope to keep working hard knowing that I have that support."
Yamaguchi followed up her Indonesia Open triumph to make it a memorable two weeks to remember and capping her victory - her first on home soil in six years - was the announcement that she will usurp Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei as world No. 1 today.
Calling it a "feeling of accomplishment", she added: "It's the first time I've ever won two weeks in a row."