Sayaka Takahashi - Evan Xiao for Badminton NZ


The top seed lived up to expectation with an easy win in the women’s singles final at the Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Badminton Open, with Sayaka Takahashi (JPN) taking out the match 21-13, 21-14 over unseeded Zhang Yiman (CHN).

Zhang gave her all but in truth was never a match for Takahashi, but the 21-year-old can nonetheless reflect on a wonderful tournament that will surely see her world ranking of 119 rise considerably in the weeks ahead.

Takahashi never takes favouritism for granted though, after suffering what could have been a career ending injury before the Rio Olympics, she just enjoys every match.

“Even though I am top seed and the favourite, I never think about this. Ever since I suffered injury at the Rio Olympics and thought perhaps I would not play again, I am just focused on every point and enjoying every match. I am just happy that I can continue playing.”

The Japanese 25-year-old did not know a great deal about Zhang but focused on her own game.

“I knew there would be a lot of long rallies, so in this game I was making sure I stayed to the way I normally play, but to make sure I limited my mistakes. That was a big crowd but a tough crowd with so many Chinese supporters, so I tried to stay focused on every point.”

Sayaka Takahashi (1) (JPN) def Zhang Yiman (CHN), 21-13, 21-14,