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Asian Games: Japan's Yamaguchi, Nishimoto fall in badminton semis, take bronze

Kenta Nishimoto, left, and Akane Yamaguchi (Kyodo)

JAKARTA (Kyodo) -- Japan's Akane Yamaguchi earned bronze in the women's badminton singles at the Asian Games on Monday, and Kenta Nishimoto did the same in the men's, becoming the first Japanese man to medal in singles since the 1970 games.

Yamaguchi, ranked second in the world, fought back from a first-game deficit against world No. 3 and Rio Olympic silver medalist V. Sindhu Pusarla of India, but crashed in the decider, losing 21-17, 15-21, 21-10, in their semifinal at GBK Istora arena in Jakarta.

"I guess it is good I won a medal but I am not at all satisfied," Yamaguchi said. "In the final game, I wanted to earn points through big rallies, but I was a bit too slow going into the game. The point difference started to widen more than I thought."

Pusarla said she really had to battle to get the win. "The third set was important for both of us today because each point counted...You just had to fight for every point," she said.

Yamaguchi added to her women's team gold, Japan's first since 1970, coming in last Wednesday's 3-1 win over China in the final.

In his men's singles semifinal, Nishimoto gave up a six-point lead in his first game against Indonesia's Jonatan Christie, but ran away with the second to stay alive.

After a hard-fought decider, the match went in favor of the home favorite 21-15, 15-21, 21-19, as Nishimoto also picked up his second medal of the games.

"What a waste. I'm just frustrated," said Nishimoto, the first Japanese man to win bronze since Ippei Kojima in 1970. "I was rushed to get points. I was so eager for the points toward the end of the final game and I became heated up and lost my composure."

"But experiencing this kind of match many times will ultimately make me stronger."

Christie beat world No. 2 and top seed Shi Yuqi en route to the final, and handed Nishimoto a straight-games loss last Tuesday in the men's team semifinal as Japan won bronze after a 3-1 defeat against eventual silver medalist Indonesia.

"Kenta played pretty well," said Christie. "He played with nothing to lose and managed to play all out. He really was able to do his strategy properly."

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