Title Favourites Just One Win Away at SKYCITY New Zealand Badminton Open

Title Favourites Just One Win Away at SKYCITY New Zealand Badminton Open

Ominous signs from the title favourites in the men’s and women’s singles at the SKYCITY New Zealand Badminton Open at the North Shore Events Centre in Auckland.

Chinese Taipei’s Tzu Wei Wang and Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon are through to the final of their respective events, after comprehensive wins in the semis. Wang was particularly impressive, as he romped to a 21-11 21-12 victory over eleventh seeded compatriot Lin Yu Hsien. Intanon had to work a little harder, but the world number nine still dealt out a 21-13 21-17 defeat to fourth seeded Indonesian Hanna Ramadini.

But while it’s no surprise the top seeds made the finals, their opponents are a different story.

Japan’s Saena Kawakami has earned the right to take on Intanon in the women’s event, after upsetting second seeded Indonesian Fitriani in the semis. The fifth seed had to ward off a determined fightback from Fitriani, before winning 21-12 17-21 21-17. It’s Kawakami’s fourth final in a BWF Grand Prix Gold event this year, after winning in Canada and Chinese Taipei and finishing runner-up at the China Masters.

However, she says those results are irrelevant.

“Every match I play I just try to focus on what’s in front of me. Without winning that match I can’t proceed to the next one, but I’m feeling pretty confident,” she said.

But the prospect of facing Intanon in the final has her excited.

“I’ve never played her before so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu was still trying to digest the fact he’d prevented an all Chinese Taipei final, with a superb 21-12 21-19 victory over sixth seed Hsu Jen Hao.

“It’s my first time in a final of a BWF Grand Prix Gold Event so I’m pretty excited,” he said.

However, the 20-year-old is trying to keep his emotions in check before facing world number 12 Tzu Wei Wang in the title decider.

“It’s just another match so I need to prepare for that,” he said.

Unlike the singles, the men’s doubles has a predictable line-up, with the top two seeds to contest the final. Chen Hung Ling and Wang Chi-Lin from Chinese Taipei have justified their top billing with a 21-13 21-15 semifinal win over Indonesia’s Kenas Adi Haryanto and Moh Reza Pahlevi Isfahani. Their opponents will be Malaysian second seeds Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi who beat China’s He Jiting and Tan Qiang 21-19 21-11.

The top seeds are also into the title decider in the women’s doubles with Malaysia’s Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei outlasting Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu 21-18 13-21 21-13. They’ll play Japan’s Ayako Sakuramoto and Yukiko Takahata, after the fourth seeds downed China’s Xuanxuan Liu and Yuting Xia 23-21 21-13.

And Australia remains in the hunt for a surprise title with eighth seeds Sawan Serasinghe and Setyana Mapasa through to the final of the mixed doubles after a 25-23 21-18 win over China’s Zhou Haodong and Xu Ya. They’ll face unseeded Indonesian pair Ronald and Annisa Saufika, who triumphed 21-9 19-21 21-6 against Chinese Taipei’s Wang Chi-Lin and Australian Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen.