Finals Day at the SKYCITY New Zealand Badminton Open
There’s a real international flavour to finals day at the SKYCITY New Zealand Badminton Open at the North Shore Events Centre in Auckland today.
Seven countries are represented amongst the ten finalists, with athletes from Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia and Hong Kong in the title hunt. Australia’s Sawan Serasinghe and Setyana Mapasa are surprise finalists in the mixed doubles, but the eighth seeds will open proceedings today as title favourites, as they take on the unseeded Indonesian pairing of Ronald and Annisa Saufika. But the major interest will be the battle between former world champion and crowd favourite Ratchanok Intanon and Japanese fifth seed Saena Kawakami in the women’s singles.
Intanon is without doubt the major drawcard of the tournament, and the fans will raise the roof if the top seeded Thai wins. However, Kawakami comes into the match in superb form, having already won two BWF Grand Prix Gold events this year, and finishing runner-up at the China Masters, where she beat Chinese world number 11 Chen Yufei in the quarters. The 19-year-old will no doubt be keen to add the world number nine’s scalp to her resume.
Meanwhile, the men’s singles is shaping up as a David vs Goliath battle, with Chinese Taipei’s top seed Tzu Wen Wang up against Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu. It’s the first time Lee has been in a final at this level and the 20-year-old admits he’s feeling nervous. However, he can take confidence from his build up to the final, having already beaten the third, sixth and seventh seeds to earn a place in the last two.
Play gets underway at the North Shore Events Centre at 3:05 pm.