2018 Finals

Women’s singles – Teenager takes second international title

As they went into their first time encounter, it was a Grand Prix Gold and Grand Prix titleholder up against a one time Grand Prix Gold winner. By the close, China’s Cai Yanyan had gone ahead in prestige by adding a BWF Super 300 title (Grand Prix Gold equivalent) to her career at the tender age of eighteen years old.

In order to win, Cai managed to shorten the amount of reaction time available to Japan’s world #170 Ayumi Mine, 21-14, 21-13. In desperation, Mine’s late bursts of strength on the last point of many rallies delivered shuttles long or wide of the perimeter.

“I’m pretty pleased. I prepared as usual but hadn’t expected the match to be as relaxed as it actually was. [After all] Japanese players are known for their determined court coverage”, explained world #104 Cai.      

Men’s singles – A first for either

World #165 Lu Guangzu and world #182 Zhou Zeqi were up both vying for their first international title and not a minor one at that.

Back in 2013 at Darling Harbour, two hitherto relatively unknown Chinese players, Tian Houwei and Xue Song, similarly heralded their breakthroughs by reaching the final after beating legends of the sport Lee Chong Wei and Taufik Hidayat respectively enroute.

Unlike Japan’s Ayumi Mine, 21 year old Lu Guangzu kept uniformly dangerous form in tact for the entire week to become the latest Australian champion, 21-8, 23-21. Lu’s trademark is his incredibly compact shots and remarkable production of power. His physique is similar to Tian Houwei’s with the ability to force winners at will that is spookily reminiscent of Xue Song.  

“I have to say I’m proud of myself for not giving up…The second game certainly was tough because my opponent played better. I’d like winning this title to launch me towards greater improvement”, said a thoroughly sweaty Lu Guangzu.

The last five points of the match entertained the crowd with both players saving shots where you thought the rally should have ended already.

Women’s doubles – Left to Japanese devices

Left hander Ayako Sakuramoto possessing the most forceful smash of all four ladies was a significant edge that the Japanese New Zealand Open winners from last week had over the teenage reigning World Junior champions Lee Yu Rim / Baek Ha Na from Korea.

Their favourite formation was the Japanese left hander captaining the rear court while her partner Yukiko Takahata regularly intercepted shuttles for winners. The Koreans were left to defend solidly but made negligible inroads forwards to strike downwards.

The large Korean community cheered their players into the early lead of the second game but at the second interval Lee Yu Rim sought medical attention on her knee. Thereafter, the world #29 Koreans side slowed down and world #37 Japanese overtook towards their third victory against these opponents and second title across consecutive weeks, 23-21, 21-18.

Mens’ doubles – Kiss the floor

In the all-Indonesian men’s final, the normally vocal second seeds were inaudible and the normally defensive first seeds were urgently assertive up to the first interval. And then the pattern reversed at the change of ends.

The typically attacking world #42 Wahyu Nayaka / Ade Yusuf Santoso never found consistent smash rhythm and were severely lacking in their defense department so it wasn’t a surprise that they went down eventually to the more solid formation of Berry Angriawan / Hardianto, 9-21, 21-9, 15-21.

Like the Japanese ladies, world #17 Angriawan/Hardianto reached two finals across consecutive weekends and managed to convert this one. Angriawan kissed the floor at the moment of victory.

Mixed doubles – Straight through every step of the way

The fifth seeded and world #178 combination of Chae Yujung / Seo Seung Jae of Korea reached the final without having dropped a game.

World #46 and Malaysian Olympic silver medallists on the comeback trail Goh Liu Ying / Chan Peng Soon, seeded seventh, took a while to acclimatise to the dual left handed Korean opposition but strung together a thrilling rally to lead 11-9 in the second game interval while down the first. The Koreans gave it all they got in the energy stakes while the Malaysians refused to be intimidated in their defensive stances.

The Malaysians appeared to have the slight momentum to take the match into the decider until Goh’s short serve was faulted during her game point under the new rule of a maximum serve height of 1.15m. This fresh Korean combination won their first title together with another straight through performance, 21-12, 23-21.

Chan Peng Soon paid tribute to today’s champions, “The way Goh and I played wasn’t ideal but our opponents were really very good.”