Akane Yamaguchi stopped world No.1 Tai Tzu Ying to claim the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2021 and celebrate the biggest victory of her career.
The Japanese was her usual athletic self and revelled in the long exchanges to take the match 21-14 21-11. The victory came at the end of a remarkable post-Olympic season, which has seen her win back-to-back events in Denmark and France, followed by impressive performances in Indonesia during the Bali leg.
“I’ve played a lot of matches over the last few months. There were good moments and bad moments, but at the end I’m very happy with my performance and very happy with this result,” said Yamaguchi.
Tai, set back by injury niggles to her right thigh and foot, was never physically in the match. Unable to play her quick game, she tried to work a slower pace by starting each rally with a succession of high clears and working her openings, but Yamaguchi’s solidity in retrieval and Tai’s finishing errors, meant that the world No.1 struggled to keep abreast.
For Tai, it was a second successive final disappointment after she fell in the gold medal clash at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. To her credit, Tai refused to blame her loss on the injuries, and instead praised Yamaguchi’s greater speed.
“The speed of the game was very fast and I couldn’t control it,” said Tai. “I didn’t find my way or my game. I was a bit passive and behind on the scores. It’s true that I had some problems with my body in the second game, but maybe I was in too much hurry and I couldn’t follow the game as she was too quick.”