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New Zealand Open: Battle of the next generation

Dev Sukumar
EXPERT COLUMNIST
News
957   //    13 Apr 2013, 15:05 IST
Xue Song of China

Xue Song of China

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.

Final matches:

MS: Riichi Takeshita (Jpn) vs Song Xue (Chn)

WS: Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) vs Xuan Deng (Chn)

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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)

XD: Praveen Jordan/Vita Marissa (Ina, 5) vs Riky Widianto/Puspita Richi Dili (Ina, 1)

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Dev Sukumar
EXPERT COLUMNIST
Dev S Sukumar is the recipient of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Media Award, 2011. He is India's most widely travelled badminton writer, having covered several international tournaments, including the Olympics, the Asian Games, the CWG Games, World Championships, the All England, the Denmark Open, the Malaysia Open, etc. He has covered badminton for over ten years now. During this period he has met fascinating characters, witnessed great matches, and has authored a biography of Indian badminton great Prakash Padukone. He has written on the game for several publications, including Sports Illustrated, Mint, Badminton Asia magazine, The New Indian Express, Hindustan Times, DNA and IANS. He tweets at twitter.com/shuttlemania
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