Japan’s top mixed doubles pair beat their South Korean opponents 21-18, 21-15.
KUALA LUMPUR: Japan’s top mixed doubles pair, Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino, kicked off the new season with a bang as they landed their maiden Malaysia Open title today, a year after they emerged as runners-up.
Even sweeter, Watanabe-Higashino became the first ever Japanese mixed doubles duo to step onto the Open’s highest podium as they powered past the seventh seeded pair from South Korea, Kim Won-ho – Jeong Na-eun, 21-18, 21-15.
The second seeds were truly in their element from start to finish to seal their eleventh World Tour title in just 37 minutes during the Super 1000 tournament held in Axiata Arena.
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Speaking at the post-match interview, Watanabe acknowledged that Kim-Jeong crumbled to the pressure of playing in their first Super 1000 final.
“It was a good start for us but we will have more tournaments coming up. We will try our best and focus on every match, after this,” he told reporters.
Higashino credited their success to Malaysian-born coach Jeremy Gan, expressing gratitude for his valuable tips and keeping them motivated to improve in each match they played.
“We are thrilled to create history as the first Japanese pair to clinch the mixed doubles title here,” she said.
Last year, Watanabe-Higashino went down in the final to the current world number one pair from China, Zheng Si Wei-Huang Ya Qiong, 19-21, 11-21.
Meanwhile, a disappointed Kim admitted that they were unable to perform at their best and expressed regret for not applying more pressure to the eventual champions in today’s match.