China suffered two reverses on the final day of the Skycity New Zealand Open, but still managed to come away with two gold medals.
Third seed Xuan Deng won the women’s singles beating Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in a tense match, before Ou Dongni and Tang Yuanting ensured the second gold for China beating the experienced pair of Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei of Malaysia in another close match.
With China in contention of four golds, Japan and Indonesia managed to thwart that possibility. Riichi Takeshita of Japan withstood a strong challenge from Song Xue of China in the men’s singles final, and top seeds Angga Pratama/Ryan Agung Saputra won the men’s doubles to win the second gold for Indonesia, after mixed doubles pair Praveen Jordan/Vita Marissa had won the first gold of the day in an all-Indonesian battle.
The focus was on the two singles matches, with all four players representing the next generation of Japan and China. Akane Yamaguchi of Japan had beaten another Chinese, Yao Xue, in the semifinals in a 50-minute long match, and possibly had the edge over her final opponent Xuan Deng. The two split the first two games, and the third went down the wire. Xuan built up the advantage early, shooting to a 16-10 lead, and held three match points at 20-17. However, Yamaguchi stayed in the hunt, slowly narrowing down the deficit, and caught up with her opponent at 20-all. The Chinese girl managed to hold her nerve and won the last two points to win the 1 hour, 8 minute battle, 21-17 18-21 22-20.
The women’s doubles final too followed the same broad pattern. The Malaysian pair of Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei won the second game after losing the first, but the Chinese pair built up the momentum early on in the third game and the Malaysians were playing catch-up. From 8-16 down the Malaysians steadily clawed back, until they came to 19-20, but the Chinese won the crucial next point to win the contest 21-15 11-21 21-19 in an hour and 13 minutes.
Riichi Takeshita of Japan had stunned the No.2 seed Hsu Jen Hao of Chinese Taipei in the semifinals, and he continued his good form in the final against Song Xue of China. Takeshita won the first game after leading from the midway point, but Song fought back strongly, leading throughout the second game. At 8-all in the final game, it looked like anybody’s match, but Takeshita managed to slowly pull ahead and close out the contest 21-16 16-21 21-17 in just over an hour.
The last match was between Indonesia’s Angga Pratama/Ryan Agung Saputra and Junhui Li/Yuchen Liu. The Indonesian top seeds destroyed the Chinese challenge in the first game, winning it 21-6, but and with a 15-8 lead in the second, looked like easy winners. But the Chinese suddenly fought their way back, winning the next ten points to just three by Indonesia. The Chinese indeed had game point at 20-19, but the Indonesians scraped their way through, eventually pulling off a 21-6 22-20 win.