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Fukushima and Hirota storm to women's doubles title in Birmingham

Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota stormed to the women’s doubles title at the Yonex All England Championships - and said it was a case of third time lucky under the Arena Birmingham lights.

The third seeds were in inspired form in the first final on Sunday afternoon, brushing aside Du Yue and Li Yinhui with ease to hold their maiden Yonex All England trophy aloft.

The Japanese pair had lost in the final against Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen back in 2018, before being knocked out in the last four in 2019 after defeat against eventual champions Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan.

But they made amends in the 2020 edition of the tournament, dispatching the sixth seeds with aplomb in the final to write their name into competition folklore.

And it’s fair to say the pair was delighted to right the wrongs of previous years.

“Obviously we lost in the final two years ago and in the semi-finals last year so we are really happy we could win as we didn’t think this moment would happen," Hirota said.

“We were more prepared this time for their low shuttles and smashes as they are strong in this area.

“They improved their speed in the second game so we encouraged each other that we could keep up with them.”

Fukushima added: “We are really happy that the tournament took place with everything else that is happening in the world and with issues of the tournament being possibly cancelled.

“This will encourage us for our next tournaments - we have to prepare properly, especially for the Olympics.”

Fukushima and Hirota found some of their most fluent stroke-play in front of a packed-out arena, racing into a 1-0 lead after taking the first set 21-13.

And it was a case of more of the same in the second, winning 21-15 to dash their Chinese opponents’ hopes.

The victory continued an impressive year for the world No.3 pairing, who also stormed to Malaysia Masters, Australia Open, Indonesia Open and Fuzhou China Open victories in 2019.

Du said: “They are more experienced and had a variety of game-plans, but we learn different things when playing different opponents, which improves our confidence for the future.

Li added: “Our opponents are all-round players - we are not as experienced as them.

"They are more consistent with their performances, often reaching the finals - we are more inconsistent compared to them for sure.

“We lacked experience in finals, so I feel that today is a good lesson for us.

“I feel that we came into the match in rather good form, but we also need to recognise the differences in our levels - we can improve faster by overcoming these challenges.”