Defending champion Akane Yamaguchi of Japan had to make tough work to outlast Pusarla V. Sindhu of India, taking a 13-21, 21-19, 21-16 victory for a chance to take back-to-back women’s singles titles in the SMART Badminton Asia Championships 2022, Saturday at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex in Muntinlupa City.
Sindhu took the opening set and was leading 14-11 when chair umpire Basel Misbah penalized the Indian for the second delay of game on service after getting warned the first time. From there, the 26-year-old could not regain her momentum as Yamaguchi also got some points on the former’s errors.
Yamaguchi, on her part, got her groove in the latter part of the second game and into the deciding game to book her place in a second straight final.
“I made it to the finals, so I can see a championship. But, I am more focused on playing better than today,” Yamaguchi said through an interpreter. “In today’s match, I was a bit struggling at the first set because of the wind. So tomorrow, I hope I can adjust and play better than today.”
The 24-year-old standout will face Wang Zhi Yi of China who scored an upset over world no. 4 An Seyoung of Korea, 10-21, 21-12, 21-16.
Like Wang, three Chinese pairs also booked their places in tomorrow’s championship matches in the mixed and women’s doubles events.
Top-seeds and world no. 2 Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong took the opening set against Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktaviani of Indonesia at 21-8. Jordan then was forced to retire before the start of the second set as he suffered a lower back injury.
World no. 4 Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping, also of China, outworked world no. 3 Watanabe Yuta and Higashino Arisa, 21-12, 24-22, to seal an all-Chinese final in mixed doubles.
In an all-Chinese semifinal in women’s doubles, world no. 1 and reigning World Champions Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan took down compatriots Du Yue and Li Wen Mei, 21-12, 21-17.
The remaining semifinal matches are currently ongoing as of this publishing.
The tournament is made possible by SMART, MVP Sports Foundation, Li-Ning, Cignal, TV5, One Sports, Robinson’s Land, Premium Megastructure Inc., Philippine Badminton Association, Badminton Asia, the Philippine Olympic Committee, the Philippine Sports Commission, and Muntinlupa Mayor Fresnedi and the City of Muntinlupa.