CANADA OPEN SF – Australians back in the final

2016 Canada Open champions Setyana Mapasa / Gronya Somerville are back in a major final for the first time in nearly 3 years, squeaking through their 2019 Canada Open semi-final […]

2016 champions Setyana Mapasa / Gronya Somerville are back in a major final for the first time in nearly 3 years, squeaking through their 2019 semi-final in two close games against another past champion.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto (live)

The last semi-final on Court 2 at the 2019 Canada Open was a real signal from Australia’s top women’s doubles pair. Setyana Mapasa and Gronya Somerville (pictured top) may be 3-time Oceania Champions but outside of their continental event, they have struggled since 2016, the year when they won the only two titles of their career, beginning with that year’s Canada Open.

It wasn’t going to be easy.  On the other side of the net was 2013 winner Yu Xiaohan of China.  Granted, she made it to the semis this year not with Huang Yaqiong the current mixed doubles world #1 who was her regular partner in those days, but with a new Huang.  Yu and Huang Jia (pictured right) had already won three tough matches, including a narrow win over the reigning World Junior Champions who recently made it to their first Super 500 semi-final.

The Australians were certainly the better rested of the two pairs.  They were given a walkover by home favourites Tsai/Honderich in the quarter-finals and they came ready to play on Saturday.  They managed to finish the match in two games of 21-19 and booked a spot in their first major final since they won the Dutch Open Grand Prix back in the autumn of 2016.

Junior Champions into finals

While it was disappointment for Huang, 4 other Chinese 19-year-olds did find success on semi-finals day.  First were two reigning Asian Junior Champions.

Actually, Wang Zhiyi’s best result to date in a major tournament on the senior tour came at the end of 2017, when she upset former world #2 Sung Ji Hyun to reach the semi-finals of the Korea Masters.  Then this week in Calgary, she beat another of Korea’s veterans, Kim Hyo Min, to book a spot in her first senior final.

Incidentally, her opponent in the final will be Korea’s current top prospect, New Zealand Open winner An Se Young (pictured above).  The 17-year-old An, who came to international prominence in the past few months first by beating former world #1 Li Xuerui to win in Auckland and then beating current world #1 Tai Tzu Ying in the Sudirman Cup, was beaten in the quarter-finals in Mongolia last week but is back in her 2nd final in her last 3 tournaments.

An Se Young did not play any junior events last year, while Wang Zhiyi was making her mark there and hence the two youngsters will be meeting for the first time.

Another Asian Junior Champion, Guo Xinwa, is through to the finals and will have to play against 2011 men’s doubles winner Ko Sung Hyun.  In fact, the 32-year-old Ko is not the oldest opponent faced this week by Guo and World Junior Championship semi-finalist partner Zhang Shuxian (pictured above).  The Chinese youngsters had already beaten 62-year-old Mathew Fogarty in the first round.

Ko Sung Hyun and Eom Hye Won (pictured bottom) saw off 3 seeded pairs in a row, most recently Thom Gicquel / Delphine Delrue.  The French second seeds were fresh off a bronze medal performance at the European Games in Minsk but they had to settle for the same colour in Calgary as they lost to the Koreans in straight games.

In men’s singles, last year’s Youth Olympic gold medallist Li Shifeng (pictured left) got the better of Japan’s Koki Watanabe to book his first ever spot in major senior final.  He will take on India’s Parupalli Kashyap.  Kashyap beat Wang Tzu Wei to reach his first major final since he was runner-up at the U.S. Open nearly two years ago.

New pair success

The story in men’s doubles was Denmark’s brand-new pairing of Mathias Boe / Mads Conrad-Petersen (pictured above) making it through to the final.  After their title at the Spanish International last month, they will be looking to keep the winning streak going in only their 2nd individual tournament together.

The Danes beat 3rd-seeded Lu Ching Yao / Yang Po Han in straight games and will next take on Japan’s Hiroki Okamura / Masayuki Onodera.  The Japanese will be in their first major final after saving a match point against compatriots Matsui/Takeuchi and extending their semi-final to three games.

The longest match of the day was between two brand-new Korean pairs.  Chang Ye Na / Jung Kyung Eun and Baek Ha Na / Kim Hye Rin won major titles on consecutive weekends back in March but the two pairs have since done a partner swap and this time Chang and Kim (pictured right) edged out Baek and Jung in a 72-minute semi-final.  The 29-year-old Chang, the oldest woman on the Korean national team, has won major titles with 4 different partners in her long career and now she has a chance to do so with a fifth.

Finals line-up
WS:  An Se Young (KOR) [5] vs. Wang Zhiyi (CHN)
MD:  Mathias Boe / Mads Conrad-Petersen (DEN) [8] vs. Hiroki Okamura / Masayuki Onodera (JPN)
WD:  Chang Ye Na / Kim Hye Rin (KOR) [5] vs. Setyana Mapasa / Gronya Somerville (AUS) [7]
MS:  Parupalli Kashyap (IND) [6] vs. Li Shifeng (CHN)
XD:  Ko Sung Hyun / Eom Hye Won (KOR) vs. Guo Xinwa / Zhang Shuxian (CHN)

Click here for complete semi-final results

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