Badminton world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying on Sunday became the first woman to defend the All England Open title in the past 10 years by defeating Japanese world No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi 22-20, 21-13 in Birmingham, England.
The two have competed 10 times, with each having won five matches each.
The first game saw the two struggle to keep a lead as the scores remained very close until Tai scored two straight points at 20-20 to edge ahead.
Tai then cruised in the second game, at one point opening a seven-point lead, and when the score reached 18-13 Tai won three straight points to wrap up the win.
Despite the victory, Tai said she was not happy with her performance, especially after she had to save a game point in the first game.
“I made a lot of mistakes and in the end I just had to run with her,” Tai said. “I would like to come back again next year and play better.”
Tai became the first Taiwanese ever to win the All England Open title last year, before her successful defense of the title on Sunday.
The previous player to successfully defend the women’s singles title was Xie Xingfang of China, who won for three consecutive years from 2005 to 2007.
In the men’s singles final, China’s Lin Dan was denied a seventh title as his young compatriot Shi Yuqi clinched a shock victory.
Seventh seeded Shi profited from Lin’s lackluster play to win 21-19, 16-21, 21-9.
The 22-year-old was able to utilize his speed and hard-to-read overhead attacks without inhibition against one of the sport’s all-time greats.
“I was more patient and controlled my pace, which helped me get the match back,” Shi said.
Lin would have been the oldest player in 63 years to win the title had he prevailed.
“To [still] play at this level is good,” 34-year-old Lin said.
Lin became the first player to appear in 10 All England Open men’s singles finals.
“I feel good about myself and I want to congratulate my younger opponent,” he said.
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