Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei end six-year title drought with New Zealand title

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Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei give their career a much-needed lift with victory at New Zealand Open. (photo: Skycity New Zealand Badminton)
Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei give their career a much-needed lift with victory at New Zealand Open. (photo: Skycity New Zealand Badminton)

Auckland: No. 1 seeds Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei of Malaysia returned to winning ways after a 6-year title drought with a three-set victory over Japan’s No. 4 seeds Ayako Sakuramoto/Yukiko Takahata in the New Zealand Open final on Sunday.

With Woon Khe Wei playing through a leg injury, the Malaysian pair surprising everyone by rising from the dead in the decider, came back from 16-19 down to deny Sakuramoto/Takahata 18-21, 21-16, 21-19 in a riveting, rollercoaster women’s doubles final. The New Zealand Open title was their first title at any tournaments sanctioned by Badminton World Federation (BWF) since claiming the 2011 Indonesian Open Grand Prix Gold in Jakarta.

“I feel like my achilles tendon was torn and I was very uncomfortable in the third set. Luckily, my partner supported me and fortunately we won,” said Woon Khe Wei after the match.

“The victory definitely put us on right track for the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games,” said Vivian Hoo.

Nevertheless, Malaysia’s men’s doubles pair, Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi wasn’t able to emulate the winning feat by going down 16-21, 18-21 to the Taiwanese top seeds Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin.

After 65 minutes battle, Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand emerged victorious against Saena Kawakami of Japan in the hard-fought women’s singles final.

The No. 1 seed Intanon took the first set 21-14 before the Japanese fifth seed Kawakami levelled the match after winning the second set 21-16.

Intanon made sure of earning her second title of the year (after winning the Thailand Open GPG in June) by outlasting Kawakami 21-15 in the third set.

“The New Zealand Open was a warm-up tournament for the World Championships. I will try to win back the world title for the Thai fans,” said Intanon.

In men’s singles, Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong caused a stunning upset in the men’s singles final, saving four match points and rallied from a set down to defeat top seed Wang Tzu Wei of Taiwan 11-21, 21-15, 22-20 in 67 minutes.

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