U.S. OPEN 2015 Finals – A day of firsts

All but Zhong Qianxin were first-time U.S. Open winners while Lee Chong Wei topped the podium for the first time this year and two Chinese pairs won the first finals […]

All but Zhong Qianxin were first-time winners while Lee Chong Wei topped the podium for the first time this year and two Chinese pairs won the first finals of their partnerships.

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

The Yonex Suffolk County Community College U.S. Open Gold featured five fairly quick finals as three Chinese pairs, one top seed, and two former world #1s stamped their authority on court.

Interestingly, the closest any runner-up came to winning a game on Sunday was when Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus pushed the great Lee Chong Wei (pictured) to extra points in their first game.  Lee held on to win the game and the match, however, and Vittinghus still has yet to take a game from the two-time Olympic silver medallist.

“I had a real good chance to take the first game as I was up 19-16, but I couldn’t convert,” said Hans-Kristian Vittinghus on his Facebook page.  “I made a few costly mistakes at that point, but that’s not where I put my focus.

“For the entire first game I played exactly the way I had told myself I wanted to play today.  It still wasn’t enough to win this time, but I’m very happy with the level I showed and how I fought all the way through and this is what I’ll focus on.

“Lee Chong Wei is such a tough opponent, but I believe 100% I can beat him on the right day, it just wasn’t today.  Still this has been a great week for me and I’m both happy and proud with my achievements here in New York. After a rough start to the year, this was just what I needed.”

China’s pairs rule

Zhong Qianxin was the last player left with a U.S. Open title to her name when the women’s doubles took to the court.  She had a new partner with her, though, and it was none other than former world #1 and former Olympic and World Champion Yu Yang (pictured above).

Yu was competing in the United States for the first time and she succeeded in winning her first ever title in this new combination with Zhong Qianxin.  Ayane Kurihara / Naru Shinoya of Japan were able to beat up on several young Chinese pairs at the China International and even beat Zhong and her former partner at the Swiss Open but on Sunday, they were relegated to a Grand Prix Gold runner-up finish for the second time this year.

In the previous match, the other 2013 champions were on court with a chance to take back their mixed doubles title.  Not only that, but Hong Kong’s Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah were riding high after winning the first Superseries title of their career last month.

Still, it was the Hong Kong pair that got off to the nervous start, ceding four quick points to China’s Huang Kaixiang / Huang Dongping (pictured above) and never succeeding in making up the ground.  Lee was playing with his usual energy and acrobatics but he sent a few wild smashes after trying to penetrate the solid Chinese defense.  The second game was more of the same and the two Huangs became the sixth Chinese pair to win a major mixed title this year.

India will have to wait a while longer for men’s doubles glory.  Manu Attri / B. Sumeeth Reddy had a great run this week and they became the first Indian men’s pair to reach a Grand Prix Gold final in five years.  Had they won, they would have been their nation’s most significant accomplishment in the discipline since the Superseries and Grand Prix circuits took their current form in 2007.

However, it was again China’s young giants Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (pictured above) who took the title.  With Olympic champions Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng disbanded, China is still looking for the next big thing in men’s doubles.  They certainly have the quantity, having placed a Chinese pair in all but one Superseries final this year.

At the very least, Li and Liu have proven themselves to be very capable understudies.  They are responsible for half of China’s four-event string of Grand Prix Gold men’s doubles titles and it is only a matter of time before the two twenty-year-olds break through in the Superseries.

More silver for Sayaka

Sayaka Sato had to bow to Nozomi Okuhara (pictured) for the second time in 8 months.  In the longest match of the afternoon, the 20-year-old world #10 showed more of the form with which she started the year and took her second Grand Prix Gold title of the year.

For Sato, it was not only the second loss to Okuhara but also the fourth time in eight months that she has lost to a compatriot in a final.  Her only title since her comeback in late 2013 was the Scottish Open last autumn, when one of her Japanese nemeses, Kaori Imabeppu, withdrew before the tournament began.

Final results
WS: Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) [1] beat Sayaka Sato (JPN)  21-16, 21-14
XD: Huang Kaixiang / Huang Dongping (CHN) beat Lee Chun Hei Chau Hoi Wah (HKG) [2]  21-15, 21-14
WD: Yu Yang / Zhong Qianxin (CHN) [5] beat Ayane Kurihara / Naru Shinoya (JPN)  21-14, 21-10
MS: Lee Chong Wei (MAS) beat Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (DEN) [3]  22-20, 21-12
MD: Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN) beat Manu Attri / B. Sumeeth Reddy (IND)  21-12, 21-16

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