Indonesia's Christie wins first All England badminton title

BIRMINGHAM: Indonesia's Jonatan Christie beat compatriot Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 21-15, 21-14 to win his first All England Open men's singles badminton title in Birmingham on Saturday.

Victory also gave Christie his maiden Super 1000 win at the first time of asking as the world number nine defeated close friend Ginting for the first time since 2019.

But Christie had to withstand fightbacks from Ginting in both games before the 26-year-old took Indonesia's first men's singles title at badminton's oldest major championship since Hariyanto Arbi defeated compatriot Ardy Bernardus Wiranata in 1994.

"I am very happy because we made history, the first all-Indonesia final after 30 years," said Christie. "I am the champion here and it is very important for me. The start of 2024 has been up and down but God helped me a lot this tournament."

Ginting, recalling his long association with Christie, said: "My first memory of Jonatan is our first day in the national team. We were the juniors, really young at the time, 16 or 17-years-old.

"We were feeling shy and a bit scared with our seniors because we are young and it's Asian culture, right...If there is no Jonatan today, there is no me today."

There was more Indonesian success in the men's doubles final, with Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto retaining their title following a 21-16, 21-16 victory over Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik of Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Carolina Marin ended her nine-year wait for a second women's singles title at the All England after Akane Yamaguchi was forced to retire.

The Spaniard was leading 26-24, 10-1 when her Japanese opponent withdrew because of a hip injury.

A marathon first game, the joint-longest of this year's tournament, saw the lead change hands seven times with Marin, the first non-Asian to win an Olympic badminton singles gold, at the 2016 Rio Games, requiring a medical time-out.

But the 30-year-old recovered sufficiently to win he first game against an injured Yamaguchi.

"At the beginning of the week, I had a hard conversation with my coach about the things that I have to improve," said Marin, whose main aim this year is the Olympic tournament in Paris starting in July. "And this is what I did during the whole week. So this is why I feel really proud and of course I feel really really happy to win my second All England after nine years."

Yamaguchi, 22, had been involved in an energy-sapping three-game clash with An Se Young in the semi-finals and the clash with Martin was a match too far for the fourth seed.

"I wasn't 100 pe cent in the first game, so I was trying to construct the rallies with what I could do," said Yamaguchi. "If I won the first game, there would have been more chance for me to win the tournament, which would have made it difficult to make the decision to withdraw.

"I was finding it difficult to move so it was a difficult situation."

South Korea's Baek Ha-na and Lee So-hee, beaten in last year's final, won the women's doubles titles with a hard-fought 21-19, 11-21, 21-17 victory over 2022 champions Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida of Japan.

China's Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong retained their mixed doubles title with a 21-16, 21-11 win over Japan's Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino.--AFP

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