GERMAN OPEN – 3 in a row for Yamaguchi, 2 straight for Seo/Chae

Akane Yamaguchi had to dig deep to beat Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon to win her 3rd straight German Open title, while Korea’s Seo/Chae won their 2nd title in as many weeks. […]

Akane Yamaguchi had to dig deep to beat Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon to win her 3rd straight title, while Korea’s Seo/Chae won their 2nd title in as many weeks.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Sven Heise (live in Mulheim)

The Japanese badminton team came to Germany and by the end of semi-finals day, had locked up two finals and earned the chance to play for 4 titles on Sunday.  When the dust cleared in Mulheim, Japan had walked away with 3 titles for the second straight year and for the 3rd time in the 6 editions.

3 in a row

The closest call for Japan also turned into the most impressive result.  Akane Yamaguchi (pictured above) needed 5 match point opportunities – and had to save one by her opponent – before coming away with the 25-23 win in her deciding game against Ratchanok Intanon.

It was a great turnaround for Yamaguchi.  The world #5 had suffered early round exits in the first two Super 500 events of the year, while Intanon started her 2019 off by winning the title at one of those tournaments.

In the German final, Yamaguchi still found herself behind after the opening game but she turned it around convincingly, dominating the second and holding her nerve in the third.  She darted all over the court, leaving the Thai at a loss as to how to break through her opponent’s defense.

All 3 of Yamaguchi’s titles, since she won the 2017 Finals in Dubai, have been in Europe.  That bodes well for her as she is now bound for the , where she has gone from semi-finalist, to finalist, and now no doubt fancies herself due for a title.

2 in a row

Yamaguchi’s success in Germany has come in the last 3 years but the final winners of the day on Sunday have found their success in even more recent terms.  Korea’s mixed pairing of Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yoo Jung (pictured) took their second title in two straight Sundays.

The Koreans struggled to keep the upper hand in the first game, but just as they had done in the semi-final against Goh/Lai of Malaysia, they caught fire after taking the one-game lead and marched out to a commanding lead in the second.  It wasn’t quite like the 14-2 they enjoyed on Saturday but up 12-4 in the second game of the final match, they were certainly sitting pretty and were able to take it home quite comfortably.

One run snapped

In the women’s doubles final, it was expected that Olympic gold medallists Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi would title in their 2nd straight outing this year, run their head-to-head record against Du Yue / Li Yinhui (pictured) up to 6-1, and deliver for Japan its first ever 4-title day at a six-figure badminton tournament.

But Du/Li had other plans.  They edged out the Indonesia Masters winners in the first game and then took control in the second.  Both players had tasted considerable success in mixed doubles but this became their biggest title yet as a women’s doubles pair.  Their best result previously was winning the Lingshui Super 100 event last year.

In the men’s singles, (pictured below) got back his edge over Kenta Nishimoto, after losing to him for the first time in Malaysia in January.  It was the first trip to the top of the podium for the world #1 since the China Open in November.  He is one of many who hope they will be peaking next week for the All England.

In the opening match of the day, last year’s All England mixed champion Yuta Watanabe took his second men’s doubles title with Hiroyuki Endo (pictured bottom).  The first for the pair was at the Korea Open Super 500 in January.

On both occasions when Endo and Watanabe have won, their team-mates Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda have been the top seeds.  In Korea, the world #3 were beaten by Korea’s top veterans but this time, they made it to the final and faced their compatriots in a 3-game struggle.

Kamura and Sonoda looked too strong and too quick for Endo and Watanabe in the opening game but by the decider, the underdogs seemed to have found the answers and after some thrilling rallies, they had stamped their authority on two games to claim the German Open title.

All ten finalists are now preparing to compete in the All England Super 1000, where every healthy qualified shuttler will be on hand looking for their piece of a million-dollar prize purse.  The five winners from Mulheim, though, will be hoping that momentum from last week’s win will give them an edge.

Final results
MD:  Hiroyuki Endo / Yuta Watanabe (JPN) [2] beat Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) [1]  15-21, 21-11, 21-12
WS:  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) [2] beat Ratchanok Intanon (THA) [3]  16-21, 21-14, 25-23
WD:  Du Yue / Li Yinhui (CHN) [8] beat Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [2]  22-20, 21-15
MS:  Kento Momota (JPN) [1] beat Kenta Nishimoto (JPN) [3]  21-10, 21-16
XD:  Seo Seung Jae / Chae Yoo Jung (KOR) [8] beat Hafiz Faizal / Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (INA) [6]  21-17, 21-11

Click here for complete results

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Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net