AUSTRALIAN OPEN Finals – One out of four repeat success

China, Indonesia, Korea and Japan: All four countries featured across the 2019 Australian Open finals came out as winners just not in every case. By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live […]

China, Indonesia, Korea and Japan: All four countries featured across the 2019 finals came out as winners just not in every case.

By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Sydney.  Photos: Luis Veniegra / Badmintonphoto (live)

The finals didn’t reach the pinnacle of excitement of the best matches earlier in the week because it was straight games through except for the all-Indonesian men’s singles. However, the outcome is strong indication of who should medal at this year’s World Championships.

24-year-olds redeemed themselves in two of their three finals – mixed doubles and one half of women’s doubles.

Doubles: Korean’s mixed techniques

Only Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun (pictured right, with Shin Baek Cheol) converted the opportunity to repeat success at this tournament. This time in men’s doubles, five years after winning the Superseries mixed title with Kim Ha Na.

The 2014 World Champions, now competing independently of their national team, completed their dream run by proving tactically wiser than the 2018 Championship silver medallists. Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda were unable to impose their characteristic flat drive style of play.  The Koreans were uninterested in participating in one note speed battles.

When the pressure of being a game down and fighting valiantly, the Japanese lost the ground they slightly regained by taking on and losing a series of forecourt net battles. Both Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol having achieved lofty mixed doubles credentials in their careers (i.e. world #1 and Asian Games champion respectively) quite likely factored into their ability to convert these late points.

In women’s doubles, world #2 Sayaka Hirota / Yuki Fukushima (pictured left) offered up impregnable defense. Fukushima was quick at regaining her balance after every deep stretch so as not to fall easy prey to a follow-up smash or drop. The Japanese pair, smartly, also earnt cheap points by hitting the odd shot through the centre line when the Chinese right- and left-handed combination were both on forehand formation.

Whenever the Chinese have reached victory, Jia Yifan had been instrumental in driving a wedge through opponent’s defenses but today she wasn’t allowed to move forward into the mid-court to become dangerous.

Mixed doubles was a mostly straightforward affair for the Chinese. Melati Oktavianti / Praveen Jordan gave away too many points in both games to deserve to win either. In the second game, all the half opportunities and relative sitting ducks contrived by the Indonesians they placed into the net.

Huang Dongping, as expected, was the most valuable player with her kinetic net coverage. Praveen Jordan lost rhythm early when the service judge called out him out and the umpire stopped a rally because of a shuttle double touch that none of the four players seemed to notice.

Singles: Christie’s superhuman strength

As he’d exacted against Lin Dan, the deciding factor in the all-Indonesian men’s singles final was Jonatan Christie’s extra bursts of power when it counted in the rubber game. The amount of strength Christie could produce was evidenced by the number of framed replies, round-the-back, and between-the-legs shots Ginting was forced into.

The were flashes of brilliance from both players. Anthony Ginting (pictured bottom) gave a master class in jump smashes. His inaccuracy was impeccable in securing the second game. As usual too, Ginting was king of the hairpin net battles because he continually dared to return one more net shot than his opponent.

As if drawing on Chen Long for inspiration, Christie was patient, focused, and disciplined in his approach to every point. It meant that the moment his opponent was less hot, he was able to capitalise once more.

In women’s singles, the final pitted reigning and 2016 All England champions against one another with the latter coming off second best in a one-way traffic match that belonged to China’s Chen Yufei (pictured left).

Both women’s weapons of choice were superb cross-court shots which won those points outright and caused spectators to gasp. Chen Yufei’s was an excellent smash which won points more often that Nozomi Okuhara’s reverse slice drop-shot.

Despite being healthy and moving well, Okuhara ran out of ideas and in her desperation to rescue the second game ended up spraying clears long and smashes wide of the lines.

Final results
WD:  Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) [2] beat Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) [3]  21-10, 21-16
MD:  Ko Sung Hyun / Shin Baek Cheol (KOR) beat Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) [1]  21-11, 21-17
WS:  Chen Yufei (CHN) [2] beat Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) [1]  21-15, 21-3
MS:  Jonatan Christie (INA) [3] beat Anthony Ginting (INA) [2]  21-17, 13-21, 21-14
XD:  Wang Yilü / Huang Dongping (CHN) [1] beat Praveen Jordan / Melati Daeva Oktavianti (INA) [6]  21-15, 21-8

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Aaron Wong

About Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong only ever coveted badminton's coolest shot - a reverse backhand clear. He is renowned for two other things: 1) Writing tournament previews that adjust the focus between the panorama of the sport's progress, down to the microscopic level of explaining the striking characteristics of players; 2) Dozing off during men's doubles at the London Olympic Games. Contact him at: aaron @ badzine.net