Ayako Sakuramoto & Yukiko Takahata - Evan Xiao for Badminton NZ


Ayako Sakuramoto and Yukiko Takahata enjoyed one of their greatest moments as a doubles pairing, taking out the Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Open women’s doubles title, defeating Cao and Yu (CHN) in straight games.

Runners up in 2017 in New Zealand, the pair went one better this time around and added another title to the 2018 Swiss Open in what is turning into a stellar season, in front of a capacity crowd at the North Shore Events Centre.

Always seemingly in control, Sakuramoto described their tactics against the more powerful Chinese pairing.

“We have never played this pair before but recognised their strength was in their power, we had to make sure we did not make mistakes, keep getting the shuttle back and stay in every point for as long as we could,” said Sakuramoto.

 Takahata said the win is a big boost to them and may well have an impact on their next tournament as well.

 “This is a really big tournament for us to win, a great honour. But also, today is important because next week we play the same opposition in the first round at the Australian Open, so this victory gives us great confidence going into that match also.”

After winning the first game 21-9, the Japanese pair were made to work harder in game two, but found the big shots and composure when needed to close out the match 21-19 in the second and take the applause of the huge crowd.

 Ayako Sakuramoto and Yukiko Takahata (JPN) def Cao Tong Wei and Yu Zheng (CHN), 21-9, 21-19 (50mins)