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Sports

Yamaguchi meets Wang in finale

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Yamaguchi meets Wang in finale
Akane Yamaguchi.
Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines — Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi put herself in striking position to repeat as women’s singles champion in the Smart Badminton Asia Championships after scraping past India’s Pusarla V. Sindhu in a semis thriller, 13-21, 21-19, 21-16, yesterday at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex.

It was the third consecutive three-set work for world No. 2 and tournament top seed Yamaguchi, who overcame a 15-13 deficit in the second frame to build momentum for her fiery closeout against Sindhu, world No. 7 and bronze medalist in the Tokyo Olympics.

Yamaguchi guns for back-to-back today in an anticipated finale against China’s Wang Zhi Yi.

Wang, ranked 16th in the world and seeded eighth in the tournament, earned her crack at the title by upstaging Korea’s second seed An Se Young, 10-21, 21-12, 21-16.

“I have to be better than today if I want to win another championship,” said the 24-year-old Japanese ace. “I was a bit struggling in the first set because of the wind so I hope I can adjust and play better.”

Sindhu led in the second set, 14-11, before fading away.

After getting penalized for a second delay of game on service, she seemed to have lost her rhythm and misfired her shots from there.

Meanwhile, reigning Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie claimed the first finals seat in the men’s singles after beating Chico Aura Swi Wardoyo in an all-Indonesian semis tiff, 21-19, 18-21, 21-16.

Christie, who previously gave reigning world champion Loh Kan Yew of Singapore the boot in Friday night’s quarterfinals, 21-13, 21-11, next tangles with Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia for the vacant crown.

Lee, the 2019 Southeast Asian Games ruler and third seed in this event, defeated Chinese qualifier Weng Hong Yang, 21-11, 21-19, in the semis.

The Chinese contingent assured itself of the mixed doubles gold with No. 1 Zheng Sewei and Huang Ya Qiong and No. 3 Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping taking care of business in their respective Last-4 assignments.

The Chinese top seeds beat Indonesia’s Paveen Jordan and Melati Oktavianti, 21-8, retired, while Wang and Huang prevailed over Japan’s No. 2 Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino, 21-12, 24-22.

China’s premiere women’s pair Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan also progressed to the championship match after outclassing compatriots Du Yue and Li Wen Mei, 21-12, 21-17.

JAPAN’S AKANE YAMAGUCHI

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