Men’s Singles – Huang Yuxiang reigns supreme
Riichi Takeshita’s dream of a second SKYCITY New Zealand Badminton Open Men’s Singles title is over after he loses to Huang Yuxiang of China, 12-21, 17-21, in the final at North Shore Events Centre.
Takeshita, who won the open in 2013, was no match for the 23-year-old 13th seed, who disposed of number one seed Son Wan Ho at the quarter-final stage.
The Japanese veteran began the first game brightly, leading until the halfway mark but Yuxiang took proceedings by the scruff of the neck winning five consecutive points. The momentum belonged to Yuxiang and it was no surprise when won the first game 21-12.
Takeshita’s habit of making unforced errors combined with Yuxiang’s sense of assurance produced an evenly balanced second game. Yuxiang gave the impression he was at times playing within himself while Takeshita had the look of a player struggling with consistency, trailing 11-10 at the interval.
Unable to iron out these issues meant it was only a matter of time before an in-form Yuxiang took advantage and he did so taking a 16-11 lead as he charged toward the title.
There was a brief comeback by Takeshita who delivered one glorious smash shot, the highlight of the night for him, to make it 16-14, but Yuxiang responded immediately with a breathtaking point of his own, a slice shot that his older opponent didn’t get anywhere near.
When Yuxiang won the longest rally of the game, the writing was on the wall for Takeshita, as the Chinese player pressed home to take victory in the second game, 21-17.
Yuxiang said the victory was special because of Takeshita’s past record at the SKYCITY New Zealand Badminton Open.
“Riichi has won in New Zealand twice before in competitions so to win here gives me a lot of confidence for the future.
“I am happy with how I played and now look ahead to the Olympic Games and hopefully as part of the Chinese team,” he said.