CHINA OPEN 2013 Finals – World Champions add to collection

World Champions Ahmad/Natsir and Wang/Yu won their 5th and 6th titles of the year respectively at the 2013 Victor China Open Superseries Premier. By Kira Rin.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live) With […]

World Champions Ahmad/Natsir and Wang/Yu won their 5th and 6th titles of the year respectively at the 2013 Victor Premier.

By Kira Rin.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

With less than a month left to the Superseries Finals, importance of ranking points is felt more strongly than before. The players competed not only for the money and for the glory, but also for the ranking points that would enable them to make the crucial leap up the rankings to qualify for the Superseries finals.

However, the mixed and women’s doubles, where the World Champions were on hand to add to their title collections, nothing was on the line but prizes and glory, as Finals berths for three of those finalists were already secure with the fourth a newly reunited pair that is out of the running.

The Indonesian pair of Tontowi Ahmad and Lilyana Natsir continued their dominating streak, strategically picking at their opponent’s defenses and striking at open spots swiftly, forcing many errors from the Danes Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen.  Although the Danes attempted to come back from a 13-point difference in the first game, they could only manage 3 points before sending an unlucky shot out.

Furious at their result of their first game, Joachim channeled his rage into his strokes, hitting with pure fury, almost in a manner reminiscent of Cu Chulainn, a famous berserker of old European mythology. Nothing could be done to cool the fury of the Danes, as they threw their shots with almost the lethality of enchanted spear Gae Bulg, leaving the shocked Indonesians with only 5 points in Game 2.

Hunger for victory saw both pairs step into the deciding game with a pace that would be more commonly seen at men’s doubles. Getting over the shock, the Indonesians regained their composure to continue their attacking stance. Joachim drew on his remaining fury to pull some aggressive rallies, but the Danes could only level the game at times, as Lilyana stepped in to join the smashing attacks, bringing the title south.

World number 1 pair Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang systematically dismantled Bao Yixin and Zhong Qianxin in a showcase of their skills at the top. In a match spanning only 31 minutes, the top cats showed their dominance in their skills, conceding only 20 points in total.

Lee returns, Li defends

For Hoon Thien How and Lee Yong Dae, this is their first final appearance together ever since their finals debut at 2004 World Junior Championships. Back then, Hoon came out on top with his then partner, Tan Boong Heong, in a 3 game victory over Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jung Young. Hoon has also become one of the few players to hold a winning record against Yong Dae over the course of years and different partners.

However, today was not the case, as the Koreans exhibited superb defense to wear out the strings of the Malaysians. In addition to the defense, both Yoo and Lee targeted Tan Wee Kiong, wearing down his defense bit by bit, and also mentally pressuring Hoon into trying to smash in order to turn the game around. Such physical offensive and mental pressure saw the Koreans take the match in an almost direct reversal of their French Open fortunes, and enabling Lee Yong Dae to notch one match up toward levelling that career head-to-head record with Hoon.

Patience is a virtue, and for Wang Shixian, it was an integral part of her playing style, as she utilized high lifts and defensive clears to keep the rallies going and kept a watchful eye for an opportunity to strike in her women’s singles final against Li Xuerui. In order to utilize such defensive play, a long reach is also required, as can be seen from Wang Shixian holding her racquet at the very end of the handle.

Li Xuerui sought to undermine the defensive stratagem by playing steep drops and quick pushes to the backcourt. Luck had a heavy hand in the match, as points and games were exchanged over the smallest of mistakes, from hitting the shot a tad too high, to hitting the shuttle wide. Stamina also played a factor as Wang struggled to keep pace with the speed dictated by Xuerui, once having her racquet fly away from her due to a weakened grip. Lady luck smiled on Xuerui as she won the final game by letting a shot fly out with the narrowest of margins.

Wang Zhengming found himself playing the defensive wall called Chen Long. However, Chen was off to a slow start, committing a number of tactical errors that saw either the shuttle hitting the net or Wang hitting down an opportune shot into an open space. Needless to say, the great dragon gradually bared his fangs and claws, coming back from behind to even the score many times. Alas it was too late for the first game, with Chen falling into the ground twice at his attempts to retrieve the game point.

Chen was now well prepared for what Wang could throw at him. Pressured by the barrage of smashes and offensive shots from Chen, Wang was forced onto the defensive, and could only pull off a few attacking rallies of his own. Chen would prove to be the more experienced of the duo, as he would almost easily negate the shots, even winning the final match point from a point blank defense of a net kill.

With the exception of Wang Shixian, all of the singles finalists are now in the Superseries top 8 only on the strength of their performances in Shanghai and the participation by the three newcomers in the Finals in Kuala Lumpur is still contingent on their performance in Hong Kong next week.  For Hoon/Tan, their runner-up finish nudges them into 8th spot but they are still vulnerable to three chasing pairs and the fact that they are not entered in the Hong Kong Open means that Korea’s Kim and Kim can pass them merely by showing up to their match on Wednesday.

Final results
MD: Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) beat Hoon Thien How / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS)  21-13, 21-12
WS: Li Xuerui  (CHN) [1] beat Wang Shixian (CHN) [7]  16-21, 21-17, 21-19
WD: Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) [1] beat Bao Yixin / Zhong Qianxin (CHN) [8]  21-13, 21-7
MS: Chen Long (CHN) [2] beat Wang Zhengming(CHN)  19-21, 21-8, 21-14
XD: Tontowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA) [2] beat Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) [4]  21-10, 5-21, 21-17

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