Lee Cheuk Yiu claimed his first senior international title with a come-from-behind effort in the Men’s Singles final of the SKYCITY New Zealand Open yesterday.
The 20-year-old from Hong Kong (featured image) teetered on the brink of defeat before saving four match points in the final game against Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei, to clinch the Grand Prix Gold title 11-21 21-15 22-20.
It capped a fine week for the unseeded Hongkonger, who beat third seed Jonatan Christie (Indonesia) in the second round, seventh seed Sourabh Verma (India) in the quarter-finals, and sixth seed Hsu Jen Hao (Chinese Taipei) in the semi-finals.
US Open champion HS Prannoy (India) was surprised by Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yu Hsien in the quarter-finals in a three-game thriller. Prannoy saved two match points in the second game, only for Lin to pay him back in his own coin as the Chinese Taipei youngster saved four match points in the decider to clinch the semi-final place 21-10 20-22 23-21.
Final day honours were split between five countries. Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon overcame mid-match blues to beat Japan’s Saena Kawakami 21-14 16-21 21-15 in the Women’s Singles final. Chinese Taipei, Malaysia and Indonesia won the Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles respectively.
Top seed Intanon had a smooth ride to the final, dropping only one game – against Indonesia’s Dinar Dyah Ayustine in the quarter-finals, while Kawakami survived a tough three-setter against another Indonesian, Fitriani Fitriani, in the semi-finals.
The top seeds in Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles also justified their seedings. Chinese Taipei’s Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin held off Malaysia’s Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi 21-16 21-18 to claim their second straight GPG crown after winning their home Yonex Open Chinese Taipei last month.
Chen/Wang cruised through the draw without dropping a game.
Malaysia’s Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei won their first title in over two years after fighting past Japan’s Ayako Sakuramoto/Yukiko Takahata 18-21 21-16 21-19 in the Women’s Doubles final.
While Hoo/Woon had a relatively smooth passage to the final, the Japanese were stretched in the quarter-finals by Malaysia’s Joyce Choong/Goh Yea Ching.
The first and third games were nerve-wracking affairs with the Malaysians edging ahead in the first, 30-28, and having their chances to take the title with a lead of 19-15 and match point at 20-19. The Japanese however stayed in the contest before pulling off a memorable victory at 28-30 21-11 22-20.
Indonesia’s scratch combination Ronald Ronald and Annisa Saufika prevented Australia’s Sawan Serasinghe/Setyana Mapasa from claiming their first Grand Prix Gold crown. The Mixed Doubles final went the Indonesians’ way: 21-19 21-14.
Serasinghe/Mapasa beat two young Chinese pairs on the way to the final – Tan Qiang/Qiao Shijun in the quarter-finals and Zhou Haodong/Xu Ya in the semi-finals.
Ronald and Saufika were pairing up only for the second time, after the SCG Thailand Open 2017. The Indonesians’ toughest test came in the quarter-finals against compatriots Edi Subaktiar/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja; Ronald and Saufika came through 18-21 21-17 23-21. They then beat Wang Chi-Lin/Wendy Chen (Chinese Taipei/Australia) in three games to book their place in the final.