AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2011 Finals – Nihon on for three

Japan convinced in Australia, taking back three titles to the “Land of the Rising Sun”.  German Open victor Liu Xin added another title to her record, overcoming her second Thai […]

Japan convinced in Australia, taking back three titles to the “Land of the Rising Sun”.  German Open victor Liu Xin added another title to her record, overcoming her second Thai opponent of the week. However, where their compatriots failed, Thai twosome Songphon Anugritayawon and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul were victorious on finals day, beating another Japanese pair.

By Elm Vandevorst, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Andrew Greenway (live from Melbourne)

As their rivals and team-mates Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam were already eliminated, Songphon Anugritayawon / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (pictured below right) were the hot favourites before the start of the match. The experienced pair didn’t disappoint, needing only half an hour to outclass Hashimoto/Fujii  21-15, 21-9. Especially the testing smashes of Anugritayawon caused the Japanese defense major problems.

There was better news for Japan in the men’s singles, with a successful day for Sho Sasaki. Sixth-seeded Sasaki defeated Vietnamese shuttler Tien Minh Nguyen in the quarter-finals and now overcame former world #1 Wong Choong Hann. Sasaki, who resides in the top 30 of the world, had a big break-through with some big wins last year. The 28-year-old shuttler started off great against Wong, convincingly claiming game one 21-11. Wong didn’t accepted defeat yet and winning the second game 21-12. At 17-all in the third, nothing had been decided yet but after almost an hour of play, Sasaki’s second championship point was enough.

And there was more joy for Japan at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre with Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito (pictured top) in the women’s and Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa in the men’s doubles. Matsuo and Naito started it of the best against former world number one pair Chin Eei Hui and Wong Pei Tty. The Malaysians just made too many mistakes and at 8-1 things were looking good for the Japanese twosome. A Malaysian comeback seemed to be happening, but at the end of the game, their adversaries prevailed. The latter also won game two, this time with 21-11, and enough to secure the title.

The brand new champions now could follow the all-Japanese final between Endo/Hayakawa and Kawamae/Sato on the other side of the net. Both teams made it to the semi-finals of the All Japan Championships at the end of the last year, but didn’t play against each other. This time in Melbourne, they did and Endo and Hayakawa, semi-finalists in Denmark last year, were successful. In a close first game they had the upper hand in money time, enough for a 21-17 victory.  It was much the same scenario in the decisive second game, this time with a 21-18 win.

What could youngster Porntip Buranaprasertsuk do against top seeded Liu Xin (pictured)? The Korea Open 2010 victor faced a difficult test against another Thai teen in the semi-final, needing three games to overcome 16-year-old sensation Ratchanok Intanon. But so did today’s adversary Buranaprasertsuk who erased several match points against Wang Lin. Unfortunately for the Thai teenager, she seemed not ready for another intense duel, whereas her Chinese rival was just better in every aspect of the game. The title favourite so became the new title holder with a straightforward 21-14, 21-9 triumph.

For complete results from the 2011 Yonex Gold, CLICK HERE

About Elm Vandevorst