The finalists have been decided at the YONEX Waikato International 2019. A thrilling evening of badminton went down in the Eastlink Badminton Centre, Hamilton, as players competed in the semi-finals at the BWF International Series event.
Australia’s mixed doubles champions from the recent VICTOR Oceania Individual Championships were in a repeat of last week’s quarter-finals, against Zhang and Pan of China. The young Chinese pairing went on to win last week’s tournament, but the Australian’s were back with a vengeance in Waikato and took the game in three:
- Simon Wing Hang Leung/Gronya Somerville (AUS)  vs Zhang Hanyu/Pan Hanxiao (CHN) 21-16 18-21 21-14
“Since last week, we watched that match and took away the things that would help us today. The main focus was to open up the court and find the gaps and be very alert around the net. We weren’t as disciplined with the plan as we should have been, but I think we did enough to win.” – Gronya Somerville
“Discipline wise we didn’t do great in the second week but overall it’s a lot better than last week.” – Simon Leung
Meanwhile, the 18-year-old youngsters from Japan, Hiroki and Natsu, are through to their first International Series final after making waves on the BWF Junior International circuit in 2018. The pair overcame their Chinese opponents in two games:
- Hiroki Midorikawa/Natsu Saito (JPN) vs Dai Zhiyi/Wang Hui (CHN) 21-13 21-15
“I would like to turn our practice into reality in tomorrow’s final. We currently have quite a low world ranking so we want to win a lot more to build this, with the hope of eventually breaking into the world’s top 10.” – Natsu Saito
The Vietnamese world number 67 and first seed, Tien Minh Nguyen, is celebrating his fourth consecutive straight-game win after overcoming Australia’s 2018 men’s singles national champion. Meanwhile, the Chinese youngster Gao Zhengze saw off the challenge from the USA to set up an exact repeat of last week’s men’s singles final:
- Tien Minh Nguyen (VIE)  vs Runze Yan (AUS) 21-12 21-10
- Gao Zhengze (CHN) vs Ye Binghong (USA) 21-12 21-10
Two of the longest matches of the evening came from the women’s singles as both matches exhibited a fine display of tactics and placement.
In just one-minute shy of an hour, eighteen-year-old Wu Yuqi from China went the distance against the first seed from Vietnam, Thi Trang (B) Vu. Vu, currently ranked at 63, is currently ranked 523 places higher than Yuqi in the world rankings. Following an intense third and final game that went to setting, the Chinese player eventually ran away with the win:
- Wu Yuqi (CHN) vs Thi Trang (B) Vu (VIE)  21-16 8-21 22-20
“I’m feeling happy because last week I lost in the quarter-finals. It was a tough match for me but I was just thinking that I need to play my hardest since she’s a much more experienced player.” – Wu Yuqi
The final will be an all-Chinese affair as Wang Siqi saw off compatriot, Wu Luoyu, over three games lasting exactly one hour, to book her place in the final:
- Wang Siqi (CHN) vs Wu Luoyu (CHN) 19-21 21-15 21-10
The first seeds from Australia were competing as a pair for the first time since winning the VICTOR Oceania Individual Championships last month. However, after 40-minutes of long rallies and mesmerising attack and defence, the Chinese youngsters eventually came out on top to set up a repeat of last week’s final:
- Hou Fangfang/Li Jiajia (CHN) vs Setyana Mapasa/Gronya Somervilla (AUS)  21-17 21-16
“This is the first time we’ve played against them. They played very well and their smash is so strong but our defence worked very well today.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s youngsters, Roanne Apalisok and Janice Jiang, were celebrating their first appearance in a BWF International Series semi-final, but were unable to get past the strong Chinese opponents:
- Pan Hanxiao/Yang Jiayi (CHN) vs Roanne Apalisok/Janice Jiang (NZL) 21-15 21-10
Singapore’s Wen and Han were the only seeded pair left in the draw at the semi-final stage, where the big hitters went one better to book a place in tomorrow’s final. Similarly, last week’s champions from the YONEX North Harbour International displayed their fast reactions and clever placement to overcome compatriots Yan and Zhang in two games:
- Wen Xing Abel Tan/Han Zhuo Toh (SGP)  vs Dai Zhiyi/Zheng Kai (CHN) 21-11 21-14
- Xuheng Zhuanyi/Zhang Binrong (CHN) vs Yan Yuhang/Zhang Hanyu (CHN) 21-16 21-10
View all the results and match times from this evening’s semi-finals on Tournament Software.
The finals will begin at 10am on Sunday 31 March 2019.
You can watch the action live via the Badminton New Zealand YouTube channel.