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Teenage world champion Abe Uta of Japan won her third Grand Slam title to remain undefeated since 2016. The 18-year-old squared off with teammate and Asian Games winner Tsunoda Natsumi (JPN) in the -52kg final and avenged her only defeat on IJF World Judo Tour which came in the 2016 Tokyo Grand Slam final.
Abe went forward and pressed world number nine Tsunoda with a barrage of attacks but the latter proved to be very difficult to throw and held off her superstar colleague to force the final into golden score. The contest was called to a halt after 57 seconds of additional time when Tsunoda was penalised for not taking a grip as her rival improved her winning run to 33 consecutive contests and her last seven events.
“I feel relieved to win, I had lost against Tsunoda three times and needed to win today to push myself towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said Abe.
In the first semi-final Tsunoda saw off world bronze medallist Amandine Buchard (FRA) with two scores from sutemi-waza. The Japanese judoka scored for a second time with 19 seconds left on the clock to secure a place in the final. In the second semi-final Abe beat World Championships silver medallist Shishime Ai (JPN) by ippon in a rematch of the final in Baku after just 20 seconds.
The first bronze medal was awarded to Shishime who defeated Taipei Open bronze medallist Maeda Chishima (JPN) by ippon with 28 seconds left on the clock. Shishime threw her compatriot with a reverse seoi-nage in the closing seconds to earn her ninth Grand Slam medal and looked relieved to have sealed a place on the podium.
The second bronze medal was won by world number one Buchard who pipped Asian Games silver medallist Park Da Sol (KOR) to the podium. France’s Buchard won her fifth Grand Slam medal by rolling Park over from the one side for a waza-ari which was the only score of the contest.
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