Reigning world champion Akane Yamaguchi outpaced Tai Tzu Ying to claim the women's singles badminton title at the season-ending World Tour Finals in Bangkok on Sunday.
The Badminton World Federation shifted its $1.5 million flagship event to the Thai capital's Nimibutr Arena after original host China dropped the tournament due to its tough Covid restrictions.
Japanese badminton ace Yamaguchi was victorious in closely fought straight games, 21-18, 22-20, over her Taiwanese opponent.
Tai – the Tokyo Olympic silver medallist – made too many unforced errors and struggled to match Yamaguchi's pace while maintaining shot quality.
Yamaguchi had a four-point advantage at the tail end of the first game and although Tai saved a couple of game points Yamaguchi was unstoppable.
The second was filled with impressive net exchanges and electric rallies, as Yamaguchi continued her dominance in attack.
Tai showed moments of savviness – a dazzling behind-the-back save and sneaky deception shot – but grew visibly frustrated as Yamaguchi inched closer to the trophy and her second end-of-year championship title.
"My opponent was skilled and quite strong, on the second game I was trying to do my best – use all my skills and power," Yamaguchi said post match.
Tai praised her opponent's net play and said her own defence had been lacking.
"Her speed was faster than mine which resulted in her having advantage in attack," Tai said, noting she had made some mistakes.
Overnight, in the men's draw a nervous Viktor Axelsen was pushed to the brink but the world number one prevailed in a marathon semi-final against Japanese young gun Kodai Naraoka in order to advance to the last stage.
Axelsen's confidence appeared dented following a surprise loss Friday to India's HS Prannoy – only his third defeat this year.