NEW ZEALAND OPEN 2017 Finals – Wang fails, Intanon succeeds

The top seeds of the Skycity New Zealand Open had various fate on Sunday at the North Shore Events Centre in Auckland : the Thai wonder won her battle against […]

The top seeds of the Skycity had various fate on Sunday at the North Shore Events Centre in Auckland : the Thai wonder won her battle against Japan’s Kawakami while Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei failed to convert 4 match points before finally bowing to his younger opponent Lee Cheuk Yiu.

By Raphael Sachetat, with press release. Photos: Brainjam and Jonathon Stone-Blackstar Sports (live)

It looked like it was going to be an almost smooth day for the favourites in the singles event of the New Zealand Open – the last big tournament before the World meet. However, Wang Tzu Wei will not participate in the BWF World Championships in Glasgow in a couple of weeks as he will try to clinch a gold medal at home for the Universiade. 

But Lee Cheuk Yiu (photo), the 20-year-old Hong Kong shuttler played some of his best badminton towards the end of the match, when trailing 16-20. He scored no fewer than 6 points in a row to win 11-21, 21-15, 22-20, depriving Wang of a second title in Auckland after his 2014 success.  It was also Wang’s third Gold final this year.  Winning in Auckland in 2014 was his first of two titles but his wish to turn that success into gold was denied by Lee, who was playing in his first major final.

“I’m still dreaming,” Lee said to local media. “When I was down 20-16 in the third game I just relaxed because I thought I had lost. But somehow in the end I got there,” he added.

Ratchanok Intanon (photo) could have been sent packing the same way, had she not been rock solid in the third game, as her Japanese opponent, Saena Kawakami troubled the top seed all through out the match – especially when she took the second game from the Thai. But the latter was still confident she would eventually win.

“I was very well prepared and I was excited to be playing but it’s good to have finished with the win,” she said.

The women’s doubles also went to plan, although top seeds Malaysia didn’t have it all their own way. Commonwealth Games gold medallists Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei dropped the opening game against Japan’s Ayako Sakuramoto and Yukiko Takahata, but bounced back to win 18-21, 21-16, 21-19.  It was the Malaysian duo’s first Grand Prix title since 2011, although they have been gold medallists at both the Commonwealth and SEA Games since then.

The men’s final was a far more straightforward affair, with Chinese Taipei’s Chen Hung Ling and Wang Chi-Lin claiming the title in straight games. The top seeds were too good on the day for second-seeded Malaysians Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi, winning 21-16, 21-18.  In contrast to their compatriot Wang Tzu Wei, Chen/Wang have won all three Grand Prix Gold finals they have contested this year.

But the mixed doubles produced yet another upset, with Indonesia’s Ronald Alexander and Annisa Saufika the surprise winners. They had been promoted to the main draw from qualifying due to a withdrawal, but have gone all the way to be crowned champions. The unseeded pair proved too good in the final for eighth seeds Sawan Serasinghe and Setyana Mapasa, winning 21-19, 21-14. 

The Australians will have to be content in the knowledge that they were the first Oceania players ever to contest a Grand Prix Gold final since the tournament level was created in 2007.

Final results
XD:  Ronald Alexander / Annisa Saufika (INA) beat Sawan Serasinghe / Setyana Mapasa (AUS) [8]  21-19, 21-14
WD:  Vivian Hoo / Woon Khe Wei (MAS) [1] beat Ayako Sakuramoto / Yukiko Takahata (JPN) [4]  18-21, 21-16, 21-19
MS:  Lee Cheuk Yiu (HKG) beat Wang Tzu Wei (TPE) [1]  11-21, 21-15, 22-20
WS:  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) [1] beat Saena Kawakami [5]  21-14, 16-21, 21-15
MD:  Chen Hung Ling / Wang Chi-Lin (TPE) [1] beat Ong Yew Sin / Teo Ee Yi (MAS) [2] 21-16, 21-18

Click here for complete results


Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.