One more top seeded pair bowed out at the semi-finals stage, before all ten finalists were decided. Australia’s Simon Leung, Mitchell Wheller and Qin Jinjing and Vietnam’s Tien Minh Nguyen are the only players standing in China’s way to achieve a whitewash at the YONEX North Harbour 2019.
At 5pm, the mixed doubles pairs walked on to court in an all-Chinese affair. This year, we welcomed an influx of up and coming Chinese talent, varying ages between fifteen and nineteen who are amongst the best juniors in their respective provinces. The young shuttlers have displayed lightning-fast reactions and sensational skills to deny all four of the seeded pairs a chance of competing past the semi-finals.
Zhang and Pan stole the show on day three, after beating the first seeds and reigning regional champions in the quarter-finals before defeating compatriots, Zhang and Hou later in the evening for a spot in the final:
- Zhang Hanyu/Pan Hanxiao (CHN) vs Zhang Binrong/Hou Fangfang (CHN) 21-19 14-21 21-14
“It’s lucky that we made it into our first final. We will try our best to win tomorrow.” – Zhang Hanyu
“I’m glad to have made our first final. We are taking it one game at a time” – Pan Hanxiao
The pair will also be joined by Yan and Yang who celebrated a victory in two games:
- Yan Yuhang/Yang Jiayi (CHN) vs Xuheng Zhuanyi/Li Jiajia (CHN) 21-18 21-10
Qin Jinjing was the only player to deny China the opportunity to seize all semi-final spots and she went one better this evening to earn a place in the final. Meanwhile, China’s Qiu Ziying shows no signs of slowing down. Following her win over the first seed from Vietnam yesterday, the world number 855 is celebrating her first ever appearance in an international final:
- Qiu Ziying (CHN) vs Wang Siqi (CHN) 21-9 21-17
- Qin Jinjing (AUS) vs Wu Luoyu (CHN) 21-12 21-19
“The last game got really tight, but I pulled through and it feels great to be in the final. This is my first time making it into a final of an international event – hopefully I can use this experience to play better in the future and my goal is to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games.” – Qin Jinjing
Australia’s first seeds and runners-up at last month’s VICTOR Oceania Championships, Simon Leung and Mitchell Wheller celebrated an emphatic win against Chinese opponents over three incredible games:
- Simon Wing Hang Leung/Mitchell Wheller (AUS)  vs Dai Zhiyi/Zheng Kai (CHN) 21-18 19-21 21-11
“I think the main thing is being disciplined and sticking to our game plan. We knew that we could take the attack on and get back into it but we just have to be disciplined and not play anything ridiculous. Just play our normal shots, be ready and work hard for every single point.” – Simon Leung
“As long as we get the attack we can win the points. It was hard to get through their defence but we got off to a good start from the attack and stayed focused for the rest of the game” – Mitchell Wheller
The other men’s doubles was a contest between the badminton-crazed nation, China. Yan and Zhang could not repeat the success in each of their mixed doubles semi-finals, eventually going down to compatriots Xuheng and Zhang in two games:
- Xuheng Zhuanyi/Zhang Binrong (CHN) vs Yan Yuhang/Zhang Hanyu (CHN) 21-18 21-12
China’s Gao Zhengze bought his best game to the courts today. In the morning, he celebrated a win against the second seed from Indonesia, Andre Marteen, before defeating the 2018 Australian national champion in the semis:
- Gao Zhengze (CHN) vs Runze Yan (AUS) 21-16 21-18
Meanwhile, the unstoppable first seed from Vietnam, Tien Minh Nguyen, demonstrated his world-class skills that lead him to the bronze medal at the 2013 World Championships, and continued his straight-sets win in the semi-finals:
- Tien Minh Nguyen (VIE)  vs Gu Junfeng (CHN) 21-10 21-12
The first seeds from New Zealand bowed out in the semi-finals, but didn’t go down without a fight against their Chinese opponents:
- Pan Hanxiao/Yang Jiayi (CHN) vs Sally Fu/Alyssa Tagle (NZL)  21-7 15-21 21-12
“At first it was quite hard because we struggled to stay with them in the rallies. The second set was better as we had more patience” – Alyssa Tagle
“We need to work on being more consistent and try to play the rallies, keep with them and not rush to get the win.” – Sally Fu
The women’s doubles was one of the last matches to grace the courts at Badminton North Harbour, where China’s Hou and Li denied Qiu of her chance for a second final appearance after overcoming their compatriots in two games:
- Hou Fangfang/Li Jiajia (CHN) vs Qiu Ziying/Wang Hui (CHN) 21-19 21-16
“I want to thank my partner who played really well and we’re happy to win this game. This is our first international final and we are looking forward to it! We will be play as hard as we can.” – Li Jiajia
The finals start from 11am on Sunday 24 March at Badminton North Harbour in Auckland – the schedule is available to view on Tournament Software.
All finals will be live-streamed via the Badminton New Zealand YouTube channel.