Akane Yamaguchi tops Nozomi Okuhara, advances to Japan Open semis

Akane Yamaguchi (right) greets Nozomi Okuhara after their match. (photo: AFP)

Tokyo: In a rematch of last year’s Japan Open women’s singles final and the 2016 Rio Olympic women’s singles quarterfinal, No. 6 seed Akane Yamaguchi played with killer drop shots and strong smashes, scored 13 straight points from 7-10 down to clinch the first set 21-11 against compatriot No. 2 seed Nozomi Okuhara on Friday.Akane Yamaguchi (right) greets Nozomi Okuhara after their match. (photo: AFP)

Yamaguchi who won the tournament in 2013 at age 16, staged another strong fightback from four points down in the second set to earn her first victory with 23-21 in their seventh meeting after Okuhara failed to return a smash from Yamaguchi.

“I’m excited to beat Okuhara for the first time, especially when my parents are her to watch me play,” said Yamaguchi.

Indonesia’s No. 2 men’s doubles pair Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan who won the tournament in 2013, dispatched Huang Kaixiang and Wang Yilyu of China 21-18, 21-15 and will take on another Chinese pair Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen in the final four.

In women’s doubles, Olympic champions Misaki Matsumoto and Ayaka Takahashi of Japan were too strong for Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai of Thailand, beating the Thai pair 21-11, 21-8 in 35 minutes.

The Olympic silver medalists – Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark however were made to work before they battle past Malaysians Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei with a 20-22, 23-21, 21-14 victory in 76 minutes.

Misaki Matsumoto/Ayaka Takahashi will play compatriots Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto while Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl will clash with No. 3 seeds Luo Ying/Luo Yu of China on Saturday.


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