December 8, 2021

All England Open concluded with Lee, Okuhara bagging singles titles

2 min read

Malaysian shuttler Lee Zii Jia and Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara claimed men’s and women’s singles titles respectively in the recently concluded All England Open. Sixth seed Lee defeated defending champion Viktor Axelsen 30-29 20-22 21-9 to win his maiden finals in this event, while world number four Okuhara beat Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-12 21-16 to claim her second All England badminton title.

“I’m happy, excited, sad,” said Lee, who knocked out world number one Kento Momota in the quarter-finals of the sports badminton event. “Everything has come into one moment so it’s hard to describe the feeling. Both of us played very well until the third game when Axelsen lost a bit of focus and that’s the moment I had the advantage.”

The match lasted over an hour as the pair went toe-to-toe in three exciting games. The first set saw the two players level hanging as they progressed to 19-19 and later at 29-29 until Lee in the decider to claim his title in his debut final appearance for the event. Meanwhile, Japanese players swept up all the other titles, including the women’s single with Okuhara.

The 26-year-old Okuhara secured the women’s singles crown for the first time since 2016 when she received her maiden All England title. “Five years ago I won here and there was no pressure, this time I’m in the top five in women’s singles so that has changed things,” Okuhara said. “But my overall play is now at a higher level so I am very happy.”

Compatriot Yuta Watanabe became the first male player to win both doubles events at the tournament in almost two decades after the 23-year-old sealed the men’s title with Hiroyuki Endo and the mixed trophy with Arisa Higashino. “Winning the two titles was something I could prove to the world. It was my goal, so I’m really happy,” Watanabe said.

Japan also won the women’s doubles crown, with Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara winning their maiden All England title in straight sets at the expense of defending champions Sayaka Hirota and Yuki Fukushima. “We’ve never won this title, so this is a milestone for us,”  said Matsumoto. “We’re really happy to have won.”

It is learnt that China, South Korea and Taiwan skipped the event due to travel restrictions and health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while Indonesia were forced into isolation for 10 days by UK coronavirus contact-tracing rules because a passenger on their flight tested positive for COVID-19. They were later pulled out of the competition “in accordance with UK Government requirements”.

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