NEW ZEALAND OPEN 2015 Finals – The legend lives!

Former world no.1 Lee Hyun Il once again proved that his experience was worth its salt, taking a title that was denied him by injury the year before. By Kira […]

Former world no.1 Lee Hyun Il once again proved that his experience was worth its salt, taking a title that was denied him by injury the year before.

By Kira Rin, Badzine Correspondent live in Auckland.  Photos: Adrianna Yiu (live)

Yet another challenger, this time by the name of Qiao Bin, stepped up to challenge the ageless Lee Hyun Il, who has won far more titles in the last year than he did in the twelve months prior to nabbing the world #1 spot, more than ten years ago.  While Qiao Bin managed to get a lead, following some advice from Coach Kim Ji Hyun (pictured right with Lee Hyun Il), Lee was able to change his game plan, utilizing his skill at anticipating the shots to gain a 9-point gap.  Qiao Bin, in an effort to salvage his pride, pulled some defensive play to close the gap to 4 points, but that did not stop Lee from rushing ahead to take his 2nd title of the year.

While the match looked almost that easy to Lee, the 35-year-old Korean admitted, “Compared to the Chinese Taipei opponent from yesterday, my opponent was stronger, fitter and had faster control.”

Thoughts of the Olympics are also not on his mind, as Lee Hyun Il added, “Right now, I’m just traveling around and have a choice of my own tournaments.”

Mixed Doubles – Battle of the double finalists

Both Zheng Siwei and Xia Huan netted themselves two finals appearances each in Auckland.  This meant they  would end up on opposite sides of the net in the mixed doubles.  With the mixed doubles opening proceedings for the afternoon, it was certain that only one would emerge still with the chance to net two doubles titles.

Yu Xiayu and Xia Huan never posed a threat, as Chen Qingchen kept setting up shots for her partner Zheng Siwei to smash down.  With their second Gold title in just over six months, the pair have established themselves as by far the strongest contenders for the World Junior title in 2015, when Chen will attempt to become the all-time leader in World Junior titles.

Women’s Singles – Battle of the junior stars

18-year-old He Bingjiao got off to a slow start, as she watched the points slip away to Japan’s Saena Kawakami (pictured), who kept pressure on the back court.  While He experimented with smashes and drops from the backcourt, mistakes started cropping up from the pressure, earning Kawakami her first game in only 17 minutes.

Come the second game, He changed to a more attacking-oriented style of play.  While Kawakami managed to gain a lead using her defensive “iron wall” defense, the Youth Olympic gold medallist momentarily made a comeback, smashing and pushing her way into holes in the defense.  The score, for a moment, stood at a draw of 18-all, but 3 points later, it was Saena Kawakami who screamed and cried tears of joy at her victory, earned just over a week before her 18th birthday.

Women’s Doubles – Breaking down the iron wall

Stinging from the loss to her team-mates in the mixed doubles final, Xia Huan looked forward to seeing if her second attempt could bear any fruit.  Facing the Japanese pair of Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota, it was no easy task getting past their formidable defenses.  While Fukushima/Hirota managed to get a one-game lead, Xia Huan and her partner Zhong Qianxin (pictured) had to start working from the bottom to come back into the game and mount a comeback.  Just as the Japanese were about to seal the match, Xia/Zhong maintained an incredible feat of concentration to keep the shuttle within the court and save four match points before equalizing the match at one game apiece.

While Xia and Zhong led for nearly the entire final game, the Japanese pair were never far behind, and even came back to 18-19.  The final few points saw Xia/Zhong fend off offensive barrages from Fukushima and Hirota to take the match, much to the delight of the crowd watching.

Men’s Doubles – A double for the yellow star

Indonesia had one chance in the finals with Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto facing reigning Asian Junior Champions Huang Kaixiang and Zheng Siwei (pictured).  Alfian and Ardianto started off strong with a comfortable one-game lead, but the 2nd game showcased the Chinese players’ tenacity.  Down from a 6-point deficit, Zheng Siwei motivated his partner Kaixing, who was on the receiving end of a smashing barrage.  Together, they managed to erase the lead and push ahead with their own barrages of smashes.  The Indonesians could never recover from seeing their comfortable lead so quickly erased, and never really had an answer to the smashes coming at them, leading Zheng to grab his 2nd title of the evening.

Final results
XD: Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN) [5] beat Yu Xiaoyu / Xia Huan (CHN)  21-14, 21-8
WS: Saena Kawakami (JPN) beat He Bingjiao (CHN)  21-16, 21-18
MS: Lee Hyun Il (KOR) [3] beat Qiao Bin (CHN)  21-12, 21-14
WD: Xia Huan / Zhong Qianxin (CHN) [4] beat Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) [3]  17-21, 24-22, 21-19
MD: Huang Kaixiang / Zheng Siwei (CHN) beat Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto (INA) [7]  16-21, 21-17, 21-9

Click here for complete results

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