History has been made on finals day at the YONEX All England Open 2018 as Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino become the first ever Japanese mixed doubles partnership to win the famous title.
There have been many great Japanese duos to come before them but none have prevailed at the world’s oldest badminton tournament, etching Watanabe and Higashino’s names into the history books forever.
The young pairing defeated fifth seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong 15-21 22-20 21-16, overcoming the experienced Chinese players with the unrelenting pace of their game.
Zheng and Huang were much fancied in Birmingham and have been in great form themselves over recent months, but it was to be the Japanese pair’s day as they delivered a superb performance in Birmingham.
“I’m happy that we are the first winner of the mixed doubles here for Japan, but we are not going to be satisfied by this result,” said Higashino, 21.
“We will be determined to come back next year and win again.”
The Chinese pairing started the match in fantastic form, dominating the first game with some brilliant all-round play and precision smashes from Huang.
But Watanabe and Higashino rallied, just as they had done against Chris and Gabby Adcock in the quarter-finals, scoring seven consecutive points at the start of the second game which their opponents never recovered from.
The young Japanese duo maintained that ascendency in the third match and needed just one game point to seal the historic title, a laser-guided smash from Watanabe.
“We have very good communication between us and discussing things is the key element that makes us stronger,” said Watanabe, 20.
The young pairing are still only 48th in the world rankings.
It is certain that this position will be elevated and with the talent displayed here in Birmingham - who knows how many titles lie in their future.
The world's best badminton players are in Birmingham for the YONEX All England (14-18 March). For tickets, TV schedule results, & reaction: allenglandbadminton.com