Akane Yamaguchi

Akane Yamaguchi (山口 茜, Yamaguchi Akane, born 6 June 1997) is a Japanese badminton player from the Kumamoto Saishunkan team who specializes in singles play. She was the first Japanese player to hold the number 1 position in the BWF women's singles ranking.

Akane Yamaguchi
山口茜
Akane Yamaguchi.jpg
Yamaguchi at Indonesia Open Super Series Premier 2015
Personal information
CountryJapan
Born (1997-06-06) 6 June 1997 (age 23)
Katsuyama, Fukui, Japan[1]
Height1.56 m (5 ft 1 in)
Weight55 kg (121 lb)
HandednessRight
Women's singles
Career record310 wins, 111 losses
Highest ranking1 (19 April 2018)
Current ranking3 (17 March 2020)
BWF profile

Yamaguchi won the national junior championship as a primary school student in 2010. She also won the 2014 and 2017 national championships, and the 2017 BWF Super Series Finals international tournament.[2] Yamaguchi helped the Japan women's team win the 2018 Uber Cup and she also won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games.[3][4]

CareerEdit

2012Edit

In July, Yamaguchi represented Japan at the Asian Junior Championships held in Gimcheon, South Korea. She finished in the semifinals in the women's singles event and settled for the bronze medal, losing to her teammate Nozomi Okuhara with a score of 0–2 (19–21, 9–21). She was part of the national junior team that won the first Asian junior mixed team title for Japan.[5] She reached the finals of the BWF World Junior Championships three years in a row, winning a silver medal in the 2012, then gold medals in 2013 and 2014.[6]

2013Edit

In April, Yamaguchi finished second at the Osaka International in the women's singles event final to Kaori Imabeppu with a score of 0–2 (20–22, 16–21),[7] and was women's singles runner-up in the New Zealand Open, a Grand Prix tournament.[8] Aged 16, Yamaguchi became the youngest player to win the BWF Super Series tournament, beating Shizuka Uchida in the finals of the Japan Open. This was the first time a Japanese woman had won the women's singles at the Japan Open and the first victory for Japan in the Japan Open.[9]

While in high school, Yamaguchi won the national badminton competition, competing in the women's singles event. At the 2nd Asian Youth Games held in Nanjing in August 2013, where she represented the Fukushima Prefectural Tomioka High School, she won a gold medal in mixed doubles.[10] In October, she represented Japan at the East Asian Games badminton competition held in the Tianjin Binhai New Area, China, where she finished third in the women's singles. After graduating from high school, she joined Re-Shunkan Pharmaceutical badminton team.[11]

2014Edit

In January, Yamaguchi competed in South Korea and in the Malaysia Open where she reached the semifinal and quarterfinal rounds, respectively. In February, she won the Asian Junior Championships girl's singles title. In March, she competed in the first round of the 2014 All England Super Series Premier. In June, she played in three consecutive tournaments, including the 2014 Japan Super Series, the 2014 Indonesia Super Series Premier, and the 2014 Australian Super Series, though each time she was eliminated after the first round. In November, she was the runner-up in the 2014 China Open Super Series Premier. In September, she represented Japan in the 2014 Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea, helping her team win the women's team bronze medal.[citation needed]

At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, on 16 August, she served as the flag-bearer for the Japanese team.[12] She was the number one seed in the women's singles event, eventually winning the women's singles silver medal.[13]

In November, she won both the BWF Super Series and the Premier China Open. She then won the All Japan General Championships in December. Her victory at just 17 years of age made her the second youngest player to do so. In December, she finished third in the BWF Super Series Final held in Dubai, UAE.[citation needed]

2015Edit

In March 2015, Yamaguchi reached the women's singles semifinal in the 2015 Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold. In May, she represented the Japanese team in the Sudirman Cup in her second singles appearance. Although Yamaguchi was not scheduled to play, in the final against the defending champions, China, the coach arranged for her to play since Yamaguchi had defeated both of China's top players. The Chinese team took a 2–0 lead in the women's finals. Yamaguchi's opponent was the London Olympics gold medalist Li Xuerui. In the end, Yamaguchi defeated her 2–0 (21–23, 14–21), and the Japanese team was a runner-up. This marked the first time Japan had earned a victory in the Sudirman Cup Championship.[citation needed]

In October, she was the women's champion of the 2015 Bitburger Open Grand Prix Gold with a victory over Thailand's Busanan Ongbamrungphan, a Gold Grand Prix women's singles champion.[14]

2016Edit

Yamaguchi won her second Super Series title at the Korea Open, beating Sung Ji-hyun, the fifth seed.[15] She followed this with a win at the Denmark Open held at Odense, making her the fourth non-Chinese women's singles player to win two consecutive Super Series following Tai Tzu-ying, Ratchanok Intanon and Tine Baun.[citation needed] On her way to victory, Yamaguchi defeated two-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist Carolina Marín in a close, three-set match and her teammate Nozomi Okuhara,[16] whom she had never beaten prior to the Olympic Games. In May 2016, she was selected as the main player for the women's singles in the 2016 Uber Cup, helping the Japanese team win third place in the women's team competition.[citation needed]

In August, she represented Japan for the first time in the women's singles badminton event at the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, while in the semifinals, facing teammate and 6th seed Nozomi Okuhara, she lost and was eliminated.[17] Yamaguchi played in the 2016 Denmark Super Series Premier in October. In the women's singles final, she defeated the No. 2 seed, Tai Tzu-ying, winning the tournament.[18] This was her first major super women's singles championship in her career.[citation needed][19]

2017Edit

In February 2017, Yamaguchi represented Japan at the 2017 Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and helped the team win its first mixed team championship. She also won the gold medal in the women's singles finals of the 2017 German Open Grand Prix Gold. In March, she played in the 2017 India Super Series. In the women's singles semifinal, she lost to the tournament's top seed and Olympic champion, Carolina Marín. She participated in the 2017 Badminton Asia Championships held in Wuhan, China. in April. She defeated Malaysian star Goh Jin Wei in the first round as the No. 2 seed; in the top eight, Yamaguchi played well and defeated the No. 6 seed 2–0.[20]

In August 2017, Yamaguchi represented Japan in the BWF World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, where she played in the women's singles event. She was the No. 1 seed, so had a bye in the first round. She defeated Denmark's Line Kjærsfeldt 2–0 in the second round, but in the third she faced No. 9 seed Chen Yufei and was defeated 0–2 (18–21, 19–21) and eliminated.[21] In October, she played in the 2017 French Super Series. She lost the women's singles final to the tournament's top seed, Tai Tzu-ying. Yamaguchi was the runner-up. She played in the 2017 China Open Super Series Premier, and in the women's singles final she swept the host's Gao Fangjie 2–0 (21–13, 21–15) to win her first women's singles championship of the year.[22]

In December, she played in the finals, defeating teammates Sayaka Sato and He Bingjiao in the group stage. She lost to India's P. V. Sindhu, but still qualified for second place. She won the semifinal 1–2 defeating Ratchanok Intanon. In the final Yamaguchi defeated Sindhu, the World Championship runner-up, winning the women's singles championship in the Super Series Finals.[23]

2018Edit

In March, Yamaguchi played in the 2018 German Open. In the women's singles final, she defeated the No. 4 seed, China's Chen Yufei, 2–1 and won the Super 300 women's singles championship. She also played in the 2018 All England Open in March losing to Tai Tzu-ying in the women's singles final 0–2 . On 19 April 2018, Yamaguchi became the first Japanese person to become the top-ranked singles player in the world,[24] for which she was awarded the "Honorary Citizen Award" by the mayor of Katsuyama, Fukui, Fukui Prefecture, on 1 May 2018.[25] In May 2018, she was selected as the main force of the Uber Cup women's singles, helping the Japanese team regain the women's team championship after 48 years.[26]

In July, she participated in the 2018 BWF World Championships held in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. She was the second seed in the women's singles. In the top four, facing the Olympic runner-up P. V. Sindhu, she lost both games 0–2 finishing in third place in the World Championships women's singles.[27]

In August, she represented Japan in the Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia, and helped the Japanese women's team win the women's team gold medal. In the women's singles semifinals, facing the tournament's No. 3 seed Olympic runner-up P. V. Sindhu, Yamaguchi lost 1–2 , winning the women's singles bronze medal.[28]

2019Edit

In February 2019, Yamaguchi played in the German Open, and in the women's singles final defeated the No. 3 seed, World Championship champion, Ratchanok Intanon 2–1 to become the Super 300 women's singles champion.[29] In March, she played in the 2019 All England Open, and lost to the tournament's top seed Tai Tzu-ying in the women's singles semifinal 1–2.[30] In April, she played in the Malaysia Open, finish as the runner-up after lost to the top seed of the tournament, Tai Tzu-ying, 0–2.[31]

She played in the Asian Championships. In the semifinal she defeated Chen Yufei, the top seed in China, making it through to the final where she faced another Chinese star, He Bingjiao, and winning the first Asian Championship title for the Japanese team. In the same month, she played in the New Zealand Open, lost in the semifinal to the tournament's No. 6 seed Li Xuerui of China 1–2 . In May, she represented Japan at the 2019 Sudirman Cup held in Nanning, China, helping the Japanese team win the mixed group runner-up.[32]

In July, she won the Japan Open, her second Japan Open title since her first six years prior.[33] That same month, she won a match against Taiwanese competitor Tai Tzu-ying, the highest-ranked player in the world, placing her in the finals of her first Indonesia Open.[34] In August, Yamaguchi was defeated in the second round of 2019 BWF World Championships held in Basel, Switzerland, by 20-year-old Yeo Jia Min of Singapore 0–2.[35]

After a disappointing loss in the BWF World Championships due to some injury problems she faced, she lost in the early stages of China, Korea and Denmark open tournaments. She came back in her form in the French Open, where she managed to reach semifinals round after losing to An Se-young.[citation needed] She also reached the semifinals of the Hong Kong Open and Korea Masters. She competed in the World Tour Finals in Guangzhou, where she got to the semifinals after her victories against He Bingjiao and defending champion P. V. Sindhu. She lost to Chen Yufei in the group stage and the semifinales as well, denying her the final.[citation needed]

2020Edit

After a slow start, Yamaguchi claimed her first title victory of the year at the Thailand Masters, beating An Se-young in two straight games.[citation needed] She helped her team in winning the Badminton Asia Team Championships by beating the An Se-young in the final. The Japanese team won it 3–0 against Korea.[36]

Technical evaluationEdit

Chinese player Sun Yu has commented on Yamaguchi's style, pointing out that while small, she is diligent and runs swiftly, and that she is capable of picking up the kinds of difficult shots that others are typically unable to save. Sun Yu also suggests that her style of play is based upon patience and consistent performance, observing that she does not make mistakes often, while simultaneously taking advantage to score from opponents who rush and make errors. Another Chinese player, Wang Shixian, agrees that Yamaguchi is quick and nimble, and that for challengers to be successful, they need to be capable of matching her speed.[37]

In 2019, Li Yongbo, head coach of the Chinese team, commented on the Japanese teenager:

She plays with patience and quality. As to whether there is room for further development due to her short stature, I think talent in badminton is not limited by height restrictions, her skill is more than enough to make up for her height. As for her future, we have to see how she holds up in the coming year."[38]

AchievementsEdit

BWF World ChampionshipsEdit

Women's singles
Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2018 Nanjing Youth Olympic Sports Park, Nanjing, China   P. V. Sindhu 16–21, 22–24   Bronze

Asian GamesEdit

Women's singles
Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2018 Istora Gelora Bung Karno, Jakarta, Indonesia   P. V. Sindhu 17–21, 21–15, 10–21   Bronze

Asian ChampionshipsEdit

Women's singles
Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2017 Wuhan Sports Center Gymnasium, Wuhan, China   Tai Tzu-ying 21–18, 11–21, 18–21   Silver
2019 Wuhan Sports Center Gymnasium, Wuhan, China   He Bingjiao 21–19, 21–9   Gold

East Asian GamesEdit

Women's singles
Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2013 Binhai New Area Dagang Gymnasium, Tianjin, China   Wang Shixian 21–19, 19–21, 16–21   Bronze

Youth Olympic GamesEdit

Girls' singles
Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2014 Nanjing Sport Institute, Nanjing, China   He Bingjiao 24–22, 21–23, 17–21   Silver

BWF World Junior ChampionshipsEdit

Girls' singles
Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2012 Chiba Port Arena, Chiba, Japan   Nozomi Okuhara 12–21, 9–21   Silver
2013 Hua Mark Indoor Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand   Aya Ohori 21–11, 21–13   Gold
2014 Stadium Sultan Abdul Halim, Alor Setar, Malaysia   He Bingjiao 14–21, 21–18, 21–13   Gold

Asian Youth GamesEdit

Mixed doubles
Year Venue Partner Opponent Score Result
2013 Nanjing Sport Institute,
Nanjing, China
  Minoru Koga   Dechapol Puavaranukroh
  Puttita Supajirakul
21–19, 19–21, 21–17   Gold

Asian Junior ChampionshipsEdit

Girls' singles
Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2012 Gimcheon Indoor Stadium, Gimcheon, South Korea   Nozomi Okuhara 19–21, 9–21   Bronze
2014 Taipei Gymnasium, Taipei, Chinese Taipei   Chen Yufei 21–11, 16–21, 21–13   Gold

BWF World Tour (6 titles, 2 runners-up)Edit

The BWF World Tour, which was announced on 19 March 2017 and implemented in 2018,[39] is a series of elite badminton tournaments sanctioned by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). The BWF World Tours are divided into levels of World Tour Finals, Super 1000, Super 750, Super 500, Super 300 (part of the HSBC World Tour), and the BWF Tour Super 100.[40]

Women's singles
Year Tournament Level Opponent Score Result
2018 German Open Super 300   Chen Yufei 21–19, 6–21, 21–12   Winner
2018 All England Open Super 1000   Tai Tzu-ying 20–22, 13–21   Runner-up
2018 French Open Super 750   Tai Tzu-ying 22–20, 17–21, 21–13   Winner
2019 German Open Super 300   Ratchanok Intanon 16–21, 21–14, 25–23   Winner
2019 Malaysia Open Super 750   Tai Tzu-ying 16–21, 19–21   Runner-up
2019 Indonesia Open Super 1000   P. V. Sindhu 21–15, 21–16   Winner
2019 Japan Open Super 750   Nozomi Okuhara 21–13, 21–15   Winner
2020 Thailand Masters Super 300   An Se-young 21–16, 22–20   Winner

BWF Superseries (5 titles, 5 runners-up)Edit

The BWF Superseries, which was launched on 14 December 2006 and implemented in 2007,[41] is a series of elite badminton tournaments, sanctioned by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). BWF Superseries levels are Superseries and Superseries Premier. A season of Superseries consists of twelve tournaments around the world that have been introduced since 2011.[42] Successful players are invited to the Superseries Finals, which are held at the end of each year.

Women's singles
Year Tournament Opponent Score Result
2013 Japan Open   Shizuka Uchida 21–15, 21–19   Winner
2014 China Open   Saina Nehwal 12–21, 20–22   Runner-up
2015 Japan Open   Nozomi Okuhara 18–21, 12–21   Runner-up
2016 Korea Open   Sung Ji-hyun 20–22, 21–15, 21–18   Winner
2016 Denmark Open   Tai Tzu-ying 19–21, 21–14, 21–12   Winner
2017 Australian Open   Nozomi Okuhara 12–21, 23–21, 17–21   Runner-up
2017 Denmark Open   Ratchanok Intanon 21–14, 15–21, 19–21   Runner-up
2017 French Open   Tai Tzu-ying 4–21, 16–21   Runner-up
2017 China Open   Gao Fangjie 21–13, 21–15   Winner
2017 Dubai World Superseries Finals   P. V. Sindhu 15–21, 21–12, 21–19   Winner
  BWF Superseries Finals tournament
  BWF Superseries Premier tournament
  BWF Superseries tournament

BWF Grand Prix (2 titles, 1 runner-up)Edit

The BWF Grand Prix had two levels, the BWF Grand Prix and Grand Prix Gold. It was a series of badminton tournaments sanctioned by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) which was held from 2007 to 2017.

Women's singles
Year Tournament Opponent Score Result
2013 New Zealand Open   Deng Xuan 17–21, 21–18, 20–22   Runner-up
2015 Bitburger Open   Busanan Ongbumrungpan 16–21, 21–14, 21–13   Winner
2017 German Open   Carolina Marín Walkover   Winner
  BWF Grand Prix Gold tournament
  BWF Grand Prix tournament

BWF International Challenge/Series (1 runner-up)Edit

Women's singles
Year Tournament Opponent Score Result
2013 Osaka International   Kaori Imabeppu 20–22, 16–21   Runner-up
  BWF International Challenge tournament
  BWF International Series tournament

Performance timelineEdit

National teamEdit

  • Junior level
Team events 2012 2013 2014
Asian Junior Championships   Gold   Bronze   Bronze
World Junior Championships   Silver 4th   Bronze
  • Senior level
Team events 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
East Asian Games   Bronze N/A
Asia Team Championships N/A A N/A   Gold N/A   Gold
Asia Mixed Team Championships N/A   Gold N/A A N/A
Asian Games N/A   Bronze N/A   Gold N/A
Uber Cup N/A   Silver N/A   Bronze N/A   Gold N/A
Sudirman Cup A N/A   Silver N/A   Bronze N/A   Silver N/A

Individual competitionsEdit

  • Junior level
Events 2012 2013 2014
Asian Junior Championships   Bronze (GS)
R2 (XD)
A   Gold
Asian Youth Games N/A R16 (GS)
  Gold (XD)
N/A
World Junior Championships   Silver (GS)
R2 (XD)
  Gold   Gold
Youth Olympic Games N/A   Silver (GS)
GS (XD)
  • Senior level
Events 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
East Asian Games   Bronze N/A
Asian Championships A R2 R2   Silver w/d   Gold
Asian Games N/A R16 N/A   Bronze N/A
World Championships A N/A R3   Bronze R2
Olympic Games N/A QF N/A
Tournament 2018 2019 2020 Best
BWF World Tour
  Malaysia Masters SF R1 R1 SF (2018)
  Indonesia Masters A R2 R2 R2 (2019, 2020)
  Thailand Masters A A W W (2020)
  German Open W W N/A W (2017, 2018, 2019)
  All England Open F SF QF F (2018)
  Singapore Open A SF N/A SF (2016, 2019)
  Korea Open SF R1 N/A W (2016)
  China Open SF R1 N/A W (2017)
  Japan Open QF W N/A W (2013, 2019)
  Denmark Open R2 R1 w/d W (2016)
  French Open W SF N/A W (2018)
  New Zealand Open A SF N/A F (2013)
  Fuzhou China Open R2 R1 N/A R2 (2018)
  Hong Kong Open QF SF N/A SF (2019)
  Indonesia Open QF W N/A W (2019)
  Malaysia Open QF F N/A F (2019)
  Korea Masters A SF N/A SF (2019)
  Thailand Open QF w/d w/d QF (2018)
w/d
  BWF World Tour Finals SF SF DNQ W (2017)
Year-end Ranking[43] 5 3 1
Tournament 2018 2019 2020 Best
Tournament 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Best
BWF Super Series
  All England Open A R1 R2 SF SF (2017)
  India Open A R2 SF SF (2017)
  Malaysia Open A QF R2 R1 QF QF (2014, 2017)
  Singapore Open A QF SF QF SF (2016)
  Indonesia Open A R1 QF R2 QF QF (2015, 2017)
  Australian Open GPG R1 R2 QF F F (2017)
  Korea Open A R2 SF W SF W (2016)
  Japan Open R1 (WS)
R2 (WD)
W R1 F SF QF W (2013)
  Denmark Open A R2 R2 W F W (2016)
  French Open A QF R1 QF F F (2017)
  China Open A F R2 QF W W (2017)
  Hong Kong Open A QF R2 QF QF QF (2014, 2016, 2017)
BWF Super Series Finals DNQ SF DNQ GS W W (2017)
Year-end Ranking 242 87 12 10 7 2 2
Tournament 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Best
Tournament 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Best
BWF Grand Prix and Grand Prix Gold
  Malaysia Masters A R1 A R1 (2016)
  Swiss Open A SF R1 A SF (2015)
  German Open A R1 SF W W (2017)
  New Zealand Open F A F (2013)
  U.S. Open A SF A SF (2015)
  Bitburger Open A W A W (2015)
  Macau Open A SF A SF (2015)

Record against selected opponentsEdit

Record against year-end Finals finalists, World Championships semi-finalists, and Olympic quarter-finalists. Accurate as of 17 March 2020.[44]

Career overviewEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit