(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
Akane Yamaguchi is on top of the world
Date: 12/19/2021 2:29 PM
Published by : Yash Sharma
Tai Tzu Ying picked up where she had left off against Akane Yamaguchi. It was not pleasant viewing for TTY around the globe. 

Akane Yamaguchi has had emphatic success after Tokyo Olympics. Today, she gave it her all and hardly made an unforced error, when it mattered the most. In return, the Japanese star enjoyed the biggest moment of an already illustrious career: a World Championships gold. It was a completely different story on the other side of the court.

In 2017, Tai Tzu Ying had happily justified her decision to skip the World Championships by stating that there would be many more chances for glory. Back then, the hot favourite was deemed by many to be too good for anyone in the discipline. Unfortunately, amid frequent talk of her retirement, the time seems to be running out. 

Disconcerted and disarrayed
The World No. 1 unravelled under the pressure to win the title. Indeed, there were some short spells of her incredible best. For instance, Tai recovered extremely well in the second game: from 4-1 down to lead 7-4. However, she more than compensated for the highest quality by playing some strange shots: one smash going well out of even the doubles sideline. Moreover, she half-heartedly tried to retrieve some of the drop shots and was unwilling to play “that extra shot”, as Morten Frost rightly pointed out. 

- I could not play my game and was a bit passive. I tried to catch up but still trailed in the scoreline, Tai conceded. 

- When Tai came back in the second game, I did not give up and kept up the fight, the Japanese pointed out. 

Fast and furious 
Nevertheless, one cannot take anything away from the winner. It was a measured and precise performance by the new world champion. Yamaguchi perfectly mixed her basic rallying game with aggressive play. World No. 3 also effectively used the attacking clears to frustrate her opponent. In turn, Tai was never able to settle in. It was reminiscent of their last encounter: a 21-9, 21-15 scoreline during the Indonesia Open 2019 semifinal. 

- It was a bit uncomfortable to move because of the leg injury. However, Akane was playing at a very fast pace. I could not find the rhythm, Tai went on. 

Patience vs Impatience
The impatience had recently cost her the Olympic crown against a flagging Chen Yu Fei. The Chinese Taipei star was made to pay for that shortcoming once again. Yamaguchi won in under 40 minutes: 21-14, 21-11. 

- I made many mistakes in the first game and hurried a bit in the second. My opponent was very quick, Tai repeated again. 

- I was very patient in defence during the first game. Therefore, my opponent made mistakes, Yamaguchi explained. 

Humble in victory 
- I am very happy to have won the title. It is special because I overcame a very strong opponent, the champion let out a shy laugh.

- I played many tournaments in the previous months, but Tai did not. That was a huge benefit for me, Yamaguchi was correct.

More to come from Tai 
The longest-reigning World No. 1 assured her fans that she will not hang up her racket anytime soon. The fight for a major crown will go on. 

- This year is over. I will continue to play next year and currently do not have any retirement plans, she promised. 

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