MACAU OPEN Finals – Michelle rules in Macau

5 years after reaching her first Grand Prix Gold final in Macau, Canada’s Michelle Li became champion at the Macau Open Super 300. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Jane Piyatat / […]

5 years after reaching her first Gold final in Macau, Canada’s Michelle Li became champion at the .

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Jane Piyatat / Badmintonphoto (live)

Back in 2013, Michelle Li (pictured right) of Canada was the Pan Am Champion but had never been in a major final in a worldwide event.  At the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold late that year, Li pulled off some minor upsets and faced a promising 18-year-old shuttler named Pusarla Venkata Sindhu in the final.  Sindhu, who had already won a Grand Prix Gold title and a World Championship bronze medal, denied Li the title and began a long, frustrating wait for the otherwise successful Canadian.

Actually, since sustaining an injury against Sindhu in the Rio Olympics, Li again went through a long patch with no titles other than the 2018 Pan Am title.  But today in Macau, she finally picked up the first Super 300 title of her career.

Michelle Li combined consistency and creativity to beat 19-year-old Han Yue of China.  Han, whose first major final was the Vietnam Open in August, did an excellent job of putting her opponent under pressure, both in the rallies, and just in staging a surprise comeback that allowed her to snatch the first game 25-23.  But Li stood her ground in the deciding game and she patiently picked her chances en route to winning the tiring game by a comfortable margin.

Michelle Li thus moves into 7th place in the Race to Guangzhou.  There are only two players within 10,000 points of catching her as she proceeds to Fuzhou and Hong Kong for her last two tournaments before awaiting hopefully an invitation to the (WTF).

Biggest title for Yap

Shortly afterward, Malaysia’s Yap Cheng Wen became the other player to pick up a career first Super 300 title.  Yap’s partner Vivian Hoo (pictured) had won Grand Prix Gold titles in 2011 and last year with former partner Woon Khe Wei but was accompanied to the top of the podium with Yap for the first time today.

Yap and Hoo beat Misato Aratama / Akane Watanabe in straight games but not without difficulty, as they had to save 4 match points before taking the second game 22-20.  Aratama and Watanabe are one of the 7 Japanese pairs who have combined to account for 20 of the 31 women’s doubles titles so far this year at Super 100 level and above but their only contribution so far was the Vietnam Open title in August and Macau was their first shot at a Super 300 crown.

Mixed doubles went to the top seeds as Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet (pictured) started off the afternoon with a two-game victory over compatriots Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah.  Tang and Tse thus move to within 600 points of the #8 pair in the Race to Guangzhou.  They will be hoping to use the momentum to take them into a strong finish that will qualify them for the WTF in December but they have 8 other pairs all within striking distance and it promises to be a close call.

Lee, Lee, and Kim for Korea

2011 champion Lee Hyun Il (pictured bottom) of Korea made it back to the top.  He beat 20-year-old Zhou Zeqi of China in straight games to take his first title in over 2 years.  At 38 years old, Lee would have broken his own record as the oldest player ever to win a Grand Prix Gold singles title but with the change in tournament nomenclature, he simply became the oldest ever (i.e. in 2018) World Tour winner in any discipline.

Lee looked calm and collected throughout the match and even when Zhou opened up a sizeable lead in the second game, the Korean patiently reeled him in and took the game 21-19.

The afternoon concluded with an exciting all-Korean final in men’s doubles.  After 69 minutes of furious, flat exchanges and some incredible defending, particularly by Lee Yong Dae, Lee and Kim Gi Jung emerged with their second Super 300 title of the year.

For Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol, it was their third final of the year but their first in a Super 300.  The winning pair will be back in action at the in two weeks’ time, their second this year, as they reached the quarter-finals in Korea already in September.

Meanwhile, the first -equivalent for Shin Baek Cheol since the 2016 Indonesia Open is still to come.  Ko and Shin are slated to play the Korea Masters Super 300 at the end of this month, where Ko is also to play mixed doubles with Eom Hye Won, another Korean who hasn’t played internationally since before the Rio Olympics.

Final results
XD:  Tang Chun Man / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) [1] beat Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah (HKG) [2]  21-14, 21-15
WS:  Michelle Li (CAN) [1] beat Han Yue (CHN) [5]  23-25, 21-17, 21-15
MS:  Lee Hyun Il (KOR) [3] beat Zhou Zeqi (CHN)  21-9, 21-19
WD:  Vivian Hoo / Yap Cheng Wen (MAS) beat Misato Aratama / Akane Watanabe (JPN)  21-15, 22-20
MD:  Kim Gi Jung / Lee Yong Dae (KOR) beat Ko Sung Hyun / Shin Baek Cheol (KOR)  17-21, 21-13, 21-19

Click here for complete results

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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