Gao Fangjie’s Cinderella run ended by Akane Yamaguchi in China Open final

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Akane Yamaguchi (R) from Japan poses with Gao Fangjie after winning the 2017 China Open final. (photo: AP)
Akane Yamaguchi (R) from Japan poses with Gao Fangjie after winning the 2017 China Open final. (photo: AP)

Fuzhou: The China Open’s women’s singles final was a battle of experience vs. height, but in the end, it was the experienced Japanese shuttler Akane Yamaguchi (with the height of 156cm) who hoisted the 2017 China Open trophy after defeating local favorite Gao Fangjie of China who stands at 178cm, but with lesser experience at the highest levels of badminton tournaments.

After defeating Olympic silver medalist P. V. Sindhu of India in the quarter-finals, and Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the semi-finals, the 19-year-old Gao Fangjie stormed into the final with high expectations of claiming the women’s single title that was last won by Li Xuerui from the host country in 2015.

But Gao became vulnerable once the 20-year-old Yamaguchi’s strong defensive and speedy net shots left Gao frustrated and helpless on the court. The Japanese ended Gao’s storybook run at the tournament 21-13, 21-15 to pick up her first Super Series title of the year in her third consecutive Super Series finals.

Despite the disappointment in women’s singles, Chinese recorded successes in the women’s doubles and mixed doubles competition.

In women’s doubles, No. 2 seeds Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan had to dig deep to beat South Korea’s Lee So hee and Hye Rin Kim 21-7, 18-21, 21-14 in 64 minutes.

Meanwhile, Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong kept the mixed doubles title at home by beating Danish duo of Mathias Christiansen and Christina Pedersen 21-15, 21-11 in 35 minutes.

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