SINGAPORE OPEN 2018 Finals – No last win for Liliyana

Malaysian duo Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Jemie Lai stunned Olympic and four-time Singapore Open champions Tontowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir to win their first Super 500 title, while Japan […]

Malaysian duo Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Jemie Lai stunned Olympic and four-time champions Tontowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir to win their first title, while Japan grabbed both the women’s singles and women’s doubles title in Singapore.

Seria Rusli live from Singapore Indoor Stadium

Goh / Lai delivered a stellar performance in their maiden encounter against the top-seeded Indonesians and secured their title in 36 minutes, 21-19, 21-19.

In both games, Goh / Lai took the early lead before the Indonesians worked their way to close the gap. But the Malaysians, currently ranked 6th in the world, kept their form and control of the game.

“Because they are a more experienced pair, for them to change the game and for them to get points it’s normal, it’s to be expected, so when they catch up, we just have to be steady in our game. Just have to follow our plan,” said Lai.

Goh’s solid coverage coupled with Lai’s accurate placements became the winning recipe for them.

“There are quite a few points where we slowed down the tempo of the game and we should have played faster as they are still young pair and still very fast,” said Ahmad. “We should have been able to match their speed. Personally I feel that we slowed down in the game and made a lot of unforced errors.”

The defeat for Ahmad / Natsir meant that they failed to win their fifth, and last, Singapore Open title as a pair.

Yet the duo, who were crowned champions in Jakarta earlier in the month, still has their eyes set on the next target: the Asian Games next month, where Indonesia will play host.

“I am still very thankful that we are able to get to the final. We will just look forward to prepare for the Asian Games which is the most important for us. So this game is a lesson for us to improve,” said Natsir.

Indonesia managed to nick a title in Singapore through their men’s doubles team Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Champions beat Chinese youngsters Ou Xuanyi / Ren Xiangyu, 21-13, 21-19.

Japanese ladies prevail

Sayaka Takahashi got herself an early birthday present from Singapore. The Japanese shuttler, whose birthday falls on 29 July, was crowned the women’s singles title after prevailing against Chinese shuttler Gao Fangjie, 25-23, 21-14.

After a close duel in the first game, Gao looked as if she could turn things around when she was leading 8-2 in the second game

However, through a combination of Takahashi’s impressive net plays and Gao’s unforced errors, the Japanese clawed back in the game and eventually overtook the lead.

“Today’s opponent was much taller than me and her smash was very good, so I struggled. Also there was some wind, and the winds changed when the courts changed,” said Takahashi. “Those things made me struggle, but I made up my mind that I had to win. When the opponent broke her rhythm because of the wind, I attacked. So that was my strategy.”

Takasashi, who was on the brink of retirement following her injury in 2016, has re-established herself in the women’s singles badminton circuit by winning her third title this year.

She credited her sister, Ayaka Takahashi – the prevailing Olympic women’s doubles champions, for encouraging her to persist in her badminton career.

“My sister said, ‘let’s play badminton together, and let’s win together’. So that comment changed me and if she didn’t say that, I think I couldn’t be here,” said the 25-year-old.

Japan also swept both the women’s doubles winner and runners up spots. Ayako Sakuramoto / Yukiko Takahata beat their compatriots Nami Matsuyama / Chiharu Shida in the finals, 16-21, 24-22, 21-13

Chou’s first victory since 2014

Chinese-Taipei took the spotlight for the men’s singles event in Singapore. The country’s top shuttler Chou Tien-Chen beat his team mate Hsu Jen-Hao in the finals, 21-13, 21-13. Chou has ended the major tournament title draught for himself and his team since his victory in the 2014 French Open.

“I feel that in these few years, I have been improving. In these 4 years, I have been preparing well for every competition, I feel that in the future I will continue to do the same,” said Chou.

Final results

MS: Chou Tien-chen (TPE) [1] beat Hsu Jen-Hao (TPE) 21-13, 21-13

WS: Sayaka Takahashi (JPN) [5] beat Gao Fangjie (CHN) [7] 25-23, 21-14

MD: Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) [5] beat Ou Xuanyi / Xiangyu Ren (CHN) 21-13, 21-19

WD: Ayako Sakuramoto / Yukiko Takahata (JPN) [5] beat Nami Matsuyama / Chiharu Shida (JPN) 16-21, 24-22, 21-13
XD: Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Jemie Lai (MAS) [2] beat Tontowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA) [1] 21-19, 21-19

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