Malaysia Open: Happy Hitting Shuttles Again

Akane Yamaguchi is glad the longest layoff of her career seems to be behind her after coming through her first match in four months in straight games.

The defending champion kicked off her 2024 campaign with a first round victory at PETRONAS Malaysia Open 2024, beating Supanida Katethong 21-15 22-20 in 43 minutes.

The Hong Kong Open, which the world No.3 won in September, was the last HSBC BWF World Tour tournament Yamaguchi was seen at. She was injured a few weeks later during the women’s team quarterfinal match against Tai Tzu Ying at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

“I enjoyed being out there hitting shuttles again. I’m happy I could play in front of an audience after a while,” said the 26-year-old.

“I’m not at my best yet but I’m satisfied with my output. My badminton was at 80 per cent but performance wise I’m only at 50 per cent. I’m working towards increasing that.”

Katethong briefly threatened to force a decider, leading 19-18 in the second game but Yamaguchi did just enough to avoid a longer tussle.

“It was a close match but I was able to stay calm. I didn’t get nervous, that’s a good sign,” said the two-time world champion who faces Kirsty Gilmour next. Gilmour, who almost tripped Yamaguchi in the Hong Kong Open second round, overcame Neslihan Arin 21-23 21-14 21-13.

“(Paris 2024) Olympics are the biggest event of the year but I’ve not set myself any targets. Four months is the longest I’ve been out injured so my focus is to work towards 100 per cent fitness. For now, I’m taking one tournament at a time.”

Another player making her return today after five months away was Michelle Li. Clearly not at her best, the Canadian fell 21-9 21-14 to Yeo Jia Min.

“Obviously I’m not match-ready but it’s good to get the first match out of the way and focus on building and trying to get my fitness back,” said Li, whose last outing, in the World Championships second round in August, was cut short by an injury.

“There were a few rallies where I could keep up. I’m just happy I finished the match this time. It’s been a tough five months, but there’s a long road ahead. I’m going to keep my head down and keep going.”

Results (Day 1)

Order of play (Day 2)

Li is back after almost half a year.


“I learned a lot about myself after the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals and I’m always looking to make gains and improve my performance. I’m really enjoying playing and happy to get 2024 off to a great start.”Anthony Sinisuka Ginting all smiles after his 21-18 21-12 win over Su Li Yang

“I had some unforced errors in the third game and my defence wasn’t there. Lots of positives to work on, but being patient is key in matches like this. Qualifying in a good spot for the Paris 2024 Olympics is a priority and there are many tournaments coming up where I can improve.” Lee Zii Jia after his first round loss to Lu Guang Zu 16-21 21-19 21-15

“It was looking a bit dangerous towards the end of the second game but we won because we really threw ourselves into the match and wanted to win. The conditions were different from practice yesterday, the shuttles and the hall felt slower, so we needed to adapt and we coped well.” – Wang Chang after he and partner Liang Wei Keng defeated home hopes Man Wei Chong/Tee Kai Wun Tee 21-12 21-19

Lee upbeat despite his early exit.

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