Badminton: Japan’s Hoki-Kobayashi aims for world number one spot after winning title

World champions Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi of Japan are aiming to become world number one for the first time after winning the Malaysian Open men’s doubles title in style.

Yesterday, the world number 2 came out on top against world number 7 Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto of Indonesia in a sensational 24-22, 16-21, 21-9 victory in 65 minutes.

They had also beaten Fajar-Rian in the final of the Thailand Open in May, but then the Indonesians were forced to withdraw due to an injury to the former.

With their second title this year, Hoki-Kobayashi moved closer to current world No. 1 Marcus Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya of Indonesia who has been hampered by injuries and poor form and hasn’t won any titles this year. .

The pair withdrew from the home tournament in the eleventh hour, citing an injury to Marcus.

“We are really happy to win this title. Now we want to try to get the No. 1 spot. We have to maintain our form to achieve that,” Hoki said. The victory was also a tonic for the Japanese as they prepare to defend their world title on home soil from August 21-28.

On their world chances this time, Hoki said: “Of course we want to defend our title, but it will be difficult because the men’s doubles is really competitive. We have two months to prepare.

Fajar-Rian’s disappointment was offset by Apriyani Rahayu-Siti Fadia Ramadhanti when they claimed their first World Tour duos title after a hard-fought 21-18, 12-21, 21-19 win over China’s Zhang Shuxian- Zheng Yu in a thrilling 71-minute battle.

The duo were only paired this year after Greysia Polii retired from the sport in March and were thrilled to win their first major title together.

“We are really happy with this breakthrough, but it’s only the beginning for us. We continue to learn and grow together as a pair and we have a long way to go to reach the top,” Apriyani said.

“We will continue to work hard and try to win more titles together.”

In mixed doubles, China’s world No. 1 Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong continued her formidable form, winning her fifth consecutive title.

It took them just 35 minutes to beat Thailand’s world No. 2 Dechopol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai 21-13, 21-18 in the final yesterday.

Men’s singles: Viktor Axelsen (Den) vs. Kento Momota (Jpn) 21-4, 21-7.

Men’s doubles: Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi (Jpn) against Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto (Ina) 24-22, 16-21, 21-9.

Women’s singles: Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) against Chen Yufei (Chn) 21-15, 13-21, 21-16.

Women’s doubles: Apriyani Rahayu-Siti Fadia Ramadhanti (Ina) against Zhang Shuxian-Zheng Yu (Chn) 21-18, 12-21, 21-19.

Mixed doubles: Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn) v Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) 21-13, 21-18.