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Akane Yamaguchi won her opening game at world badminton championships

  • Carolina Marin of Spain through to second round after battling back from injury.
  • Number three seed An Se-young beat Vietnam’s Thuy Linh Nguyen 21-18, 21-10, and India’s Saina Nehwal beat Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi.
  • Denmark’s Kristoffer Axelsen beats Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands.

Akane Yamaguchi, the reigning women’s champion and top seed, breezed through her first game on Tuesday at the world badminton championships. Viktor Axelsen, the top seed for men, also kept making smooth progress.

Yamaguchi beat Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia 21-12 and 21-15 in front of a happy home crowd in Tokyo. This was the first step in her quest for a second straight world title.

“I wasn’t really nervous but you do get players who lose in the first round and go straight out, so I was really focused on getting the result,” said 25-year-old Yamaguchi.

“I never felt that I had any breathing space until towards the end of the second game. It was more about dealing with my opponent than me going on the attack.”

Carolina Marin of Spain, who is trying to win a record fourth world title in Tokyo, got off to a good start by beating Wen Yu Zhang of Canada 21-16, 21-14.

Former world number one Marin had a terrible year in 2021. She missed both the Tokyo Olympics, which were delayed because of a pandemic, and the world championships, which were held in her hometown of Huelva.

Marin returned to action in April this year but she said Tuesday that she was “not 100 percent yet”.

“This is the condition that I have right now and I have to play in this condition,” said Marin, seeded number five for the competition.

“Let’s see how far I can go in this tournament. Of course I want to get a medal here and I want to win, but this is not something I have in my mind.”

South Korea’s number three seed An Se-young beat Vietnam’s Thuy Linh Nguyen 21-18, 21-10, and India’s Saina Nehwal beat Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi 21-19, 21-9 in the first round.

On the men’s side, Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands gave Axelsen of Denmark a hard time in the first game of their second-round match before Axelsen found his rhythm and won 21-19, 21-10.

Axelsen has only lost one match on tour this season, and he beat Caljouw quickly and easily again.

“Mark played really well in the first game and made it really hard for me, especially on that far side where the drift is a little bit hard to deal with,” said Axelsen.

“I’m really happy that I managed to turn it around, it’s good to be in the third round and I’m really looking forward to it.”

On Wednesday, the number two seed in the men’s draw, Kento Momota, will play HS Prannoy of India.

Shi Yuqi of China is coming back from a 10-month ban from the Chinese Badminton Association. He beat Rasmus Gemke of Denmark 21-13, 21-16 in the second round to continue his comeback.

Shi was in the finals of the world championships in 2018. He quit a match against Momota in 2021, and the Chinese Badminton Association banned him for making “inappropriate comments” about it.

He said he was “trying to prepare myself mentally to get better and better” after beating Gemke.

“I’m just taking it one step at a time but I’m hoping to get to the final and win the title,” he said.

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