It will be a Japan versus China affair in both singles finals of the New Zealand Open. Both matches will feature the next generation of players from the badminton powerhouses.
The men’s singles final will feature Song Xue and Riichi Takeshita (Jap, 11), while the women’s singles final will be a contest between Xuan Deng (China, 3) and Akane Yamaguchi (Japan).
China also entered two other finals – the women’s doubles and men’s doubles. In the women’s doubles, Ou Dongni/Tang Yuanting won a peculiarly one-sided contest against compatriots Ting Xiao/Xiong Rui 21-4 21-4 in just 25 minutes. They take on top seeds and favourites Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei (Malaysia) in the final.
The only major loss for the Chinese on Saturday was sixth seed Yao Xue, who fell to Japan’s Yamaguchi in 50 minutes. The match was a thriller all the way, with Yamaguchi winning the first game 21-16, losing the second, 21-14, and eventually sealing the match 21-18 after the two were tied at 17-all.
The other semifinal matches saw the Chinese dominate. Song Xue got past Lee Dong Keun (Kor) in an absorbing match, 21-16 16-21 21-15 in an hour and 14 minutes, while Riichi Takeshita (Jpn) surprised the second seed Hsu Jen Hao (Taipei) in an unusual match, 23-21 21-7. The women’s singles semifinals saw third seed Xuan Deng (Chn) battle past Korea’s Kang Hae Won 21-15 18-21 21-18 in just over an hour, but Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi had earlier thwarted the possibility of an all-China final with her 50-minute win over Yao Xue.
Indonesia are assured of one gold, as the mixed doubles final will be an all-Indonesia affair.
MS: Riichi Takeshita (Jpn) vs Song Xue (Chn)
WS: Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) vs Xuan Deng (Chn)
MD: Junhui Li/Yuchen Liu (Chn) vs Angga Pratama/Ryan Agung Saputra (Ina, 1)
WD: Ou Dongni/Tang Yuanting (Chn) vs Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei (Mas, 1)