Lee Hyun-il, Saena Kawakami win New Zealand Open

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Lee Hyun-il takes home USD$9,000 by winning the New Zealand Open. (photo: New Zealand Open)

Auckland: Despite being 10 years older than his Chinese opponent, the 35 year old former world number one shuttler Lee Hyun-il of South Korea sent a reminder to the young gun Qiao Bin from China, that he is nowhere near close to riding quietly into the sunset when he romped to victory in the men’s singles final in just 43 minutes at the New Zealand Open on Sunday.Lee Hyun-il takes home USD$9,000 by winning the New Zealand Open. (photo: New Zealand Open)

The 35-year-old Korean shuttler produced a masterclass of shot-making as he thrashed Qiao Bin 21-12, 21-14 to lift the men’s singles title of the New Zealand Open.

“I injured my calf muscle last year, it took me a while to recover, and I am happy to win the New Zealand Open,” said Lee.

In a grueling men’s doubles final encounter, Chinese pair Huang Kaixiang and Zheng Siwei rallied from one set down to defeat Indonesia’s Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto 16-21, 21-17, 21-9 in 47 minutes.

Now, to women’s singles final with a Cinderella story that was the talk of the tournament when the 17-year-old Japanese qualifier Saena Kawakami upset He Bing Jiao of China in straight-sets to take home the New Zealand Open crown.

Kawakami needed only 15 minutes to win the first set with 21-16. However, He Bing Jiao showed strong resilience in the second set before the Japanese finally subduing the stubborn Chinese to take the title back to the land of the rising sun, together with the prize money of USD 9,000.

Xia Huan and Zhong Qianxin of China stayed neck and neck with Japan’s Yuki Fukishima and Sayaka Hirota in their battle for the women’s doubles title, it took 100 minutes before the Chinese pair finally prevailed with a 17-21, 22-24, 21-19 victory.

In the all-Chinese mixed doubles final, Zheng Si Wei/Chen Qingchen of China got the better of compatriots Yu Xiaoyu/Xia Huan by winning 21-14, 21-8 in 31 minutes.

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