The decider itself was a lengthy 45 minutes – which spoke of the intense battle Malaysians Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying were involved in with Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva Oktavianti – in the mixed doubles final at the Event Finda Stadium in Auckland on Sunday.
At the end of the 1hour 25 minutes “battle of the nerves,” the Malaysians came out tops with a 21-14, 16-21, 29-27 win to nail their second New Zealand Open title, having also won in 2016.
It is a fantastic start for the Malaysians to kickstart their 2020 Tokyo Olympics campaign. The New Zealand Open is the first tournament that offers Olympics ranking points and it is certain to give the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medal winners the boost to their campaign.
This is the second world tour title for Peng Soon-Liu Ying after turning professional at the beginning of the year. They won the Thailand Masters in January.
“The top 10 pairs in the world are about the same standard. It will be tough playing them. Winning the New Zealand Open is a good start for us and we hope to ride on this win for the coming tournaments,” said Liu Ying.
A jubilant Peng Soon added: “Even when we were trailing we never gave up. We kept going and to pressure our opponents.”
The men’s singles title was won by last year’s runner-up Jonatan Christie. The third-seeded Indonesian, the Asian Games champion, nailed a 21-12, 21-13 win over Angus Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong China and in the process won his first world tour title.
Young Korean teen An Se-young, 17, walked away with her first world tour title after a 21-19, 21-15 win over China’s 2012 London Olympics champion,15th ranked Li Xuerui, 28. The Korean is ranked 78.
All England champions Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan came from behind to beat newly crowned Asian champions Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe 20-22, 21-15, 21-17 in a pulsating 67-minute encounter to win the men’s doubles.
Unseeded Koreans Kim so-yeong-Kong Hee-yong pulled off an upset with a 21-15, 21-18 win over Japan’s reigning Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi in the women’s doubles final. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH