Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota won the Women's Doubles title / image brainjam.co.nz

Women’s Doubles – Fukushima, Hirota cruise to title win

The SKYCITY New Zealand Badminton Open has new Women’s Doubles champions after Japan’s Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota defeated Korea’s Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee, 21-13, 21-16.

The number two seeds Koreans came through the semi-finals with a win over compatriots Go Ah Ra and Yoo Hae Won in a marathon encounter that lasted an hour and 22 minutes last night and they started off slowly in a first game dominated by the Japanese.

Fukushima and Hirota, by contrast, came through their semi-final win over Gronya Somerville and Setyana Mapasa at a relative canter, 24-22, 21-8, and looked the fresher for it, beating the Koreans easily, 21-13, in the first game.

Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee were backed by a Korean supporters group and they responded at the start of the second game. They had their opponents on the backfoot when they took a 4-1 lead but Fukushim and Hirota rediscovered their poise to lead 11-8 at the interval.

Outstanding was Fukushima whose ability to probe gaps, switching between power and finesse, an attribute that Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee struggled to deal with.

The Koreans struggle to find the next gear may have been due to their exertions in their derby encounter with Go Ah Ra and Yoo Hae Won but they could have few complaints about this result as the better pair prevailed.

Victory was wrapped up in the second game, 21-16, in what amounted to the most comfortable of wins for Fukishima and Hirota to hand them a title they desperately coveted.

“We were very confident coming into the game because we always back ourselves. We lost in this tournament last year so to win the title this year is a big sign of our progress and we’re both very happy with the way we played. Our next target is the Indian tournament next week and we go into that feeling positive about our form,” Fukushima said.