Palembang, Indonesia, April 23, 2016 – Australia stamped their authority in the 5th South Sumatra Governor Cup AVC Beach Tour Palembang Open following a clean sweep of both men’s and women’s titles, with the current and three-time Asian champions Isaac Kapa/Christopher McHugh powering past Alexey Kuleshov/Dmitriy Yakovlev from Kazakhstan in the hard-fought three-set men’s showdown.
In-form Kapa/McHugh, who last month beat compatriots Cole Durant/Bo Soderberg to win their third Asian crown at Manly Beach in Sydney, have already claimed their first title of the year in Asia when they beat Kazakhstan’s Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko, gold medallists at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, in the final clash of the AVC Beach Tour Pak Bara Open in Satun, Thailand on April 11. However, the Aussies were beaten by old foes Kazakhstan in the showdown of the Samila Open in Songkhla,Thailand on April 16.
In the Saturday’s final, Australia 1’s Kapa/McHugh found Kazakhstan 2’s Kuleshov/Yakovlev a tough nut to crack. The Aussies struggled hard to beat New Zealanders Ben O’Dea/Tom Hartles 21-18 26-28 15-10 in a hotly-contested, 58-minute semi-final clash earlier, while the Kazakh duo had an easier job to thrash Qataris Julio Cesar Do Nascimento Junior/Ahmed Tuan Janko in comfortable straight sets 21-16 21-14 in the other semi-final match.
The Aussies took command to take the opening set of the final 21-16, but went down fighting to the strong Kazakhs in the second set 15-21. The decider turned out to be a close battle as both sides traded attacks in an effort of winning the set and the title.
The game became more thrilling when it reached a heart-pounding 18-18 equaliser before the Aussies upped their tempo to win two successive points to end the tough rivals’ challenge 20-18 and the three-set title match.
In the third-place playoff, Qataris Julio/Ahmed Tuan confronted a daunting challenge from Ben O’Dea/Hartles to cruise past the New Zealanders in close three sets 21-15 18-21 15-12.
In the women’s competition, with the shock semi-final defeat of the world U23 champions Mariafe Artacho Del Solar/Nicole Laird, the Australians who took silver medal at the last month’s Asian Championships at home and who made a clean sweep of both titles held in Thailand, Pak Bara Open in Satun and Samila Open in Songkhla, the golden chance was open for Kazakh veterans Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova, gold medallists at the 2014 Asian Beach Games in Phuket, Thailand.
However, Australians Phoebe Bell/Becchara Palmer, playing their first tournament together, smashed the Kazakhs’ dreams of winning their title in Palembang following their stunning 22-20 21-14 victory over Mashkova/Tsimbalova in the women’s showdown.
Earlier, Mashkova/Tsimbalova had a daunting task in the semi-finals to narrowly beat Thailand’s Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee with a comeback 2-1 (17-21 21-16 15-10) victory, while the other semi-final encounter saw Bell/Palmer stun Asian Championships silver medalists Artacho Del Solar/Laird 21-18 21-17 in the all-Australians battle.
In the third-place playoff, Artacho Del Solar/Laird proved a cut above Varapatsorn/Tanarattha, brushing off the Thai opponents 21-18 21-14 to take home bronze medal.
Semi-finals: Kapa/McHugh (Australia) b Ben O’Dea/Hartles (New Zealand) 2-1 (21-18 26-28 15-10); Kuleshov/Yakovlev (Kazakhstan) b Julio/Ahmed Tuan (Qatar) 2-0 (21-16 21-14)
Third-place playoff: Julio/Ahmed Tuan (Qatar) b Ben O’Dea/Hartles (New Zealand) 2-1 (21-15 18-21 15-12)
Gold-medal match: Kapa/McHugh (Australia) b Kuleshov/Yakovlev (Kazakhstan) 2-1 (21-16 15-21 20-18)
Semi-finals: Mashkova/Tsimbalova (Kazakhstan) b Varapatsorn/Tanarattha (Thailand) 2-1 (17-21 21-16 15-10); Bell/Palmer (Australia) b Artacho Del Solar/Laird (Australia) 2-0 (21-18 21-17)
Third-place playoff: Artacho Del Solar/Laird (Australia) b Varapatsorn/Tanarattha (Thailand) 2-0 (21-18 21-14)
Gold-medal match: Bell/Palmer (Australia) b Mashkova/Tsimbalova (Kazakhstan) 2-0 (22-20 21-14)