Son Wan-Ho, Nozomi Okuhara claims Hong Kong Open

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Congratulations to Son Wan-Ho (R) for winning the 2018 Hong Kong Open. (photo: AFP)

Kowloon: World No. 6 Son Wan Ho of Korea won his first title of the season on Sunday, beating World No. 11 Kenta Nishimoto of Japan 14-21, 21-17, 21-13 in the Hong Kong Open final.

The sixth-seeded Korean player squandered a 10-2 lead to lose the first set 14-21 to Nishimoto.

Son who held a 5-2 career record against Nishimoto prior to Sunday’s final, stormed back to the delight of a raucous crowd to beat the Japanese in the next two games.

This was Son’s first international title since winning the Korea Masters Championships on December 11, 2016.

“I am very excited to finally win an international title again in almost two years. I have not changed much in my training routine during this time, but I have always enjoyed every moment on the court,” said Son.

In the women’s singles competition, Japan’s 2017 World Champion Nozomi Okuhara who received an easy semi-final match after World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying retired early in the second set, narrowly survived a tough fight as she eked out a 21-19, 24-22 victory over the 2013 World Champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in 1 hour and 4 minutes.

Nozomi Okuhara poses on the podium after the women's singles final match against Ratchanok Intanon. (photo: AFP)
Nozomi Okuhara poses on the podium after the women’s singles final match against Ratchanok Intanon. (photo: AFP)

“Today’s final could really be anyone’s game. It’s already extremely difficult to beat players in the first and second round of each tournament,” said Okuhara after the victory.

“I am hoping to keep improving, and to qualify for the Olympic. All eyes will be on Japanese players in the Tokyo Olympics, and I strongly believe that Japanese players are able to win the gold medals,” added Okuhara.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s World No. 1 men’s pair Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo needed only 35 minutes to outlast Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda in a one-sided final.

Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda pose for pictures after the match. (photo: AFP)
Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda pose for pictures after the match. (photo: AFP)

The defending champions from Indonesia trashed the World No. 3 Japanese pair 21-13, 21-12 in a quick tempo match.

“We were also quite surprised to be able to execute our strategy right from the beginning of the match because the Kamura/Sonoda are usually difficult to play against,” said Gideon after the match.

Japan’s World No. 1 Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota picked up their sixth title of the year when they best No. 7 seeds Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan of Korea 21-18, 21-17 for the women’s doubles title.

Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota show their Hong Kong Open gold medals during the award ceremony. (photo: AFP)
Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota show their Hong Kong Open gold medals during the award ceremony. (photo: AFP)

It was a joyful day for the Japanese camp on Sunday when Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino claimed the third title for their country by beating second-ranked Chinese opponents Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping 21-18, 21-14 in 46 minutes in the mixed doubles final.

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