Pictured: Shiori Saito, Japan. Photo Credit: Bob Walsh
The Japanese duo quickly settled down and found their groove on the morning of the finals, taking the early lead at half time as Asakura refused to give up control of the net. Despite a slow start, the pair from Chinese Taipei began to creep back into contention as Lee’s power and Chang’s height allowed them to play a less traditional version of mixed doubles (with the woman attacking from the back more than usual) which took Sumiya and Minami by surprise.
The Japanese took a 1-0 lead but Chang and Lee maintained the momentum that they built towards the end of the first game, to run away with the second 21-9. The deciding game featured all the fast and furious exchanges that makes mixed doubles a spectacle, with no more than three points in it at any one time while both pairs raced towards the finish. Ultimately, it was Chang and Lee who clinched the victory and doubled down on their success from last weekend.
- Chang Ko-Chi/Lee Chih Chen (TPE) vs Sumiya Nihei/Minami Asakura (JPN) 16-21 21-9 21-19
“We didn’t change up anything particularly different, but it came down to whoever was the most consistent and able to encourage each other all the way to the end.”, says Chang Ko-Chi
“We already met in last week’s tournament, so we know their game very well. In the second, we changed our tactics and in the third game, my partner is trying to preserve his power as he has a men’s doubles match later too. I play women’s doubles where I am usually at the back as I have a lot of power, and Chang is really tall. While we haven’t been a pair for very long, but it is working well ”, says Lee Chih Chen
While the women’s singles final was won in two games, the contest could not have been much closer. The two players from Japan drove the shuttle into the four corners of the court as they fought to claim the first game. Shiori Saito, who has been acknowledged for her fighting spirit throughout the week following her superb cross court dives and recoveries, pipped Hirari to the post to go 1-0 up. She followed this up with a more convincing lead in the second game, before Hirari recovered from 14-10 and 19-16 down to bring it back to 19-19 in the second.
However, an unforced error and a fabulous crosscourt smash helped Shiori claim her first international title since 2018, when she won the Paytren Berkat Abadi Indonesia International Challenge.
- Shiori Saito (JPN) vs Hirari Mizui (JPN) 21-19 21-19
“It’s been a long time since I’ve won anything so I’m feeling very happy. I am very strong minded and I try my best to show that on court. This week, I just kept telling myself to keep holding on and fighting back in every rally”, says Shiori
Japan continued to disrupt the dominance of Chinese Taipei in the singles space, as their contingent claimed all five golds in Sydney and Bendigo over the last two weeks. Yushi Tanaka helped the cause when he ousted the winner of the last two weeks and second seed, Lin Chun-Yi, in Friday’s second round. Yesterday, Yushi looked unstoppable as he eased past two more seeded players in two relatively comfortable games. Although today’s contest was closer, he levelled up once again to defeat his fifth seeded compatriot.
- Yushi Tanaka (JPN) vs Riku Hatano (JPN) 21-13 21-18
Australia’s Gronya Somerville and Wendy Chen took an early lead all the way up until 17-12 in the opening game of the women’s doubles. Both pairs endured long rallies, before Sung Shuo Yun decided to take some risky moves and approach the forecourt to intercept the Australian’s attack – a tactic which worked well as Chinese Taipei turned the tables and narrowly escaped with a 1-0 lead.
The pairs stayed within close reach of each other until 7-7 when Sung and Yu enjoyed a run of seven consecutive points to runaway with the lead, before Gronya and Wendy scrambled their way back into the game to trail by just two points (17-15). However Sung Shuo Yu had different plans. She is competing in her seventh consecutive tournament, having made it to the latter stages of most and the podium in the last two. Eager to collect at least one gold at each of Oceania’s grade three tournaments, Sung and Yu quickly capitalized on their narrow lead and closed in on the victory in another close game.
- Sung Shuo Yun/Yu Chien Hui (TPE) vs Wendy Chen/Gronya Somerville (AUS) 21-19 21-17
“We are very happy that we are able to take a second title in Oceania. Today is a very special day for us. We contributed the most of our strengths to push us through our game and anything that didn’t work in the rallies, we changed quickly to fix it”, says Yu Chien Hui
“Because we eventually won the first one, we knew the strategy was working so we had to maintain the consistency into the second. I have played seven tournaments in a row, and in this tournament my leg is starting to hurt. Therefore, I couldn’t perform as well as I wanted to in the singles”, says Sung Shuo Yun
The Lee twins from Chinese Taipei were fast out the starting blocks today – in an exact repeat of last week’s men’s doubles final in Bendigo. Chang and Po simply could not keep up with their pace in the first as Lee and Lee took a decisive 1-0 lead. Chang, who is competing in his fourth final of the last three weeks returned to court with a second wind, while Po stepped up to cover for his partner’s tired determination. Lee and Lee had their chances to take the win in two games but their opponents held their nerves to force a decider.
A tense third game captivated the audience at Badminton North Harbour, but it was Chang and Po’s for the taking as they ran away with a significant lead to add another gold medal to their tally.
- Chang Ko-Chi/Po Li-Wei (TPE) vs Fang-Chih Lee/Fang-Jen Lee (TPE) 10-21 22-20 21-13
“The courts, shuttles and speed is different here so the rallies were really long.”, says Po Li-Wei
“The main thing for me was concentration, especially after losing the first one. We really had to focus on the second and put in two hundred percent effort. This was a partnership, so while I have won four golds, it’s for both of us [me and partners] not just for me”, says Chang Ko-Chi
A breakdown of all results from today’s final are available to view on Tournament Software.
All video footage from courts one and two throughout the tournament is available to watch for free on Badminton Oceania’s YouTube Channel – click here to view.
More photos and videos are available to view on Badminton Oceania’s Facebook page.