GERMAN OPEN – Biggest title yet for Goh and Lai

Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai took their first mixed title at a six-figure badminton event, making the German Open their second major title. By Don Hearn.  Photos: […]

Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai took their first mixed title at a six-figure badminton event, making the their second major title.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Sven Heise / Badmintonphoto (live)

On Sunday in Mulheim, Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai (pictured right) of Malaysia took one more step up the ladder in world-class mixed doubles.  Bettering their previous best of a title at the 2016 Scottish Open , they topped the podium at the German Open.  The Southeast Asian nation now has no fewer than 3 active mixed pairs who have titled at the (previously Gold) level.

Goh and Lai looked in control of the first game against Denmark’s Niclas Nohr / Sara Thygesen but were playing catch-up throughout most of the second game.  They managed to move Nohr around at the back in the latter half of the game and played solid defense to come up with the win, maintaining their nerve in extra points and not allowing the Danes to serve a game point.

The win will likely put Goh/Lai into the #8 position in the world rankings, ahead of compatriots Tan/Lai.  With Olympic silver medallists Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying back in action, Malaysia could soon end up with a trio of pairs solidly in the top echelon of mixed doubles.

The team that won big on Sunday was the Japanese contingent.  They took in three titles on the day, denying Chinese shuttlers a single victory in Germany.  First, World Championship runners-up and defending champions Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota became the third Japanese pair to win on the new .  They dropped a game before taking two one-sided games from the newly-formed partnership of Huang Dongping and Zheng Yu (pictured bottom).  Huang had to settle for silver for the second straight year, as she had lost to the Japanese pair in 2017 with her former partner.

Akane Yamaguchi also defended her title, although she had to work much harder this year than last winter, when Carolina Marin was unable to contest the final.  Yamaguchi took a one-game lead from China’s Chen Yufei (pictured left) before being dominated in the second.  She took the decider convincingly, however, and Chen is still waiting for her second title, having not topped a podium since her inaugural win at the 2016 Macau Open.

Takuto Inoue / Yuki Kaneko (pictured right) added to their Grand Prix Gold title of last year another performance of the same calibre.  This time, they got the better of Indonesia’s Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto in straight games to emerge on top, in this rebranded tournament echelon now known as the BWF World Tour Super 300.

While two of Japan’s men’s singles players had promising starts at this year’s German Open, defending champion Chou Tien Chen (pictured below) of Chinese Taipei took care of both Kenta Nishimoto and Kento Momota on his way to the final.  There, he was up against Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long, who had the most promising run of the draw, as he ousted 6-time winner Lin Dan in the quarter-finals.

Ng was close to taking the laurels away from Chou but in the end finished on the losing end after three tight games in what was by far the longest final of the afternoon.  The title defense, coming after his runner-up finish at the India Open, should allow Chou to hit the ground running at next week’s All England, where he will start off against U.S. Open champion H.S. Prannoy, against whom the Taiwan shuttler is undefeated.

All of the finalists from the German Open are set to play starting on Wednesday at the All England, with the exception of Zheng Yu.  Mixed runners-up Nohr and Thygesen entered the event but were 5th on the reserve list, meaning they will only compete if there are multiple last-minute withdrawals.  The All England is the first big BWF event to be run under the new system without qualifying rounds.

Final results
WD:  Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) [3]          beat Huang Dongping / Zheng Yu (CHN)  18-21, 21-14, 21-6
XD:  Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Jemie Lai (MAS) [3] beat Niclas Nohr / Sara Thygesen (DEN)  21-14, 22-20
WS:  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) [1] beat Chen Yufei (CHN) [4]  21-19, 6-21, 21-12
MS:  Chou Tien Chen (TPE) [4] beat Ng Ka Long (HKG) [6]  21-19, 18-21, 21-18
MD:  Takuto Inoue / Yuki Kaneko (JPN) [6] beat Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto  (INA) [7]  21-16, 21-18

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Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net