Underdog Victories Set Up for Thrilling Finals

Dylan Soedjasa (NZ) was the name on everyone’s lips today at the Kiwi player made his presence felt in the Casa Del Sole Noumea International, staking his claim for finals spots in both the men’s singles and mixed doubles (with Susannah Leydon-Davis). Having already dispatched 3 seeds so far in his journey to the finals, Dylan’s opponents, Ashwant Gobinathan (AUS) and the mixed pair of Sawan Serasinghe and Setyana Mapasa (AUS), will certainly not be complacent as they head on court at Salle Anewy later this morning.

The Semi-Finals day started with a thriller as Kiwis Dylan and Susannah eventually overcame Australians Mitchell Wheller and Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen in a tough 59-minute encounter. After a lacklustre first game, the Australians found a second wind and managed to break the Kiwis’ momentum, pulling level at 20-all, before taking the game at 28-26, and setting the stage for a titanic third game. The large crowd were in rapturous applause and hushed awe in equal measure. Soedjasa and Leydon-Davis closed out the match 21-11 26-28 21-18, much to the delight of the New Zealand coaches. Sawan Serasinghe and Setyana Mapasa (AUS) sent their compatriots packing in the other semi-final, with a clinical 21-15 21-13 win over Matthew Chau and Louisa Ma in 29 minutes.

Dylan again showed his class, taking out a close match over Anthony Joe (2nd Seed, AUS) in the last match of the day, and credits his win to sticking to his game plan and maintaining his precision in the challenging conditions. “When it’s this hot and you’re playing a long game, whoever is mentally stronger will come through.” In the other semi-final, Ashwant Gobinathan (AUS) defeated Pit Seng Low (AUS) with a fast and aggressive style to book his place in the men’s singles final.

Also having a good day was Joy Lai (AUS) who won herself two spots in the finals, defeating Tiffany Ho (AUS) in the women’s singles, before combining with Ho to win their women’s doubles semi-final against Vicki Copeland and Anona Pak (NZ). Lai will come up against top seed, Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen, for the women’s singles title, and then take on Gronya Somerville and Setyana Mapasa for the women’s doubles crown.

Joel Findlay and Jeff Tho (AUS) are the ones to watch in the men’s doubles final. Unseeded in this tournament, they have dispatched their opponents to date with relative ease and are continuing to refine their partnership, which has only been running since the middle of 2016. Findlay said the key to their victory in the semi-final was in their ability to adapt throughout the whole match – sticking with what was working until their opponents became wise to it, and then quickly identifying and shifting the focus of the attack to a new area.

Sunday is shaping up to be an excellent day of finals badminton and the Australian team will be keen to take a clean sweep of all events, however battler Dylan Soedjasa would like nothing more than to upset the party and bring home a couple of titles for New Zealand.

Finals begin at 11am live from Salle Anewy, Noumea and online at http://bit.ly/OceaniaLive


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