China masters the CHINA MASTERS 2014

China didn’t allow the guests to even show up on court for finals day at the China Masters Grand Prix Gold as the entire docket on Sunday featured nothing but […]

China didn’t allow the guests to even show up on court for finals day at the Gold as the entire docket on Sunday featured nothing but Chinese players.

By Angga Maulana Akbar.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Relegated to Grand Prix Gold status as of this year, the China Masters seemed, on the surface, to be one of the quietest tournaments this year as Wang Zhengming was the sole top ten shuttler to enter.  Despite how it might have looked on paper, however, this tournament still ha some bite as the best shuttler of the past decade showed up again after a hiatus while rising up to be recognized by the world were possibly some of best of the decade to come.

Lin Dan’s first in 36 weeks

The long hiatus has been taken, and now Lin Dan is back to the court.  It was only his third international tournament in the 20 months since the London Olympics, the only time he didn’t stand on the top podium being almost exactly one year ago at the Asian Championships.

In the final match, Lin took his younger compatriot Tian Houwei, who defeated him in December under the China Badminton Super League’s 11-point scoring system.  However, this final was a more accurate display of each shuttler’s level and Lin Dan defeated Tian in the first game 21-14 and continuing the success in the second win to prevail 21-9.  This and next week’s Badminton Asia Championships form a good warm-up as rumour mill is abuzz with speculation that the legend himself could get the nod as a third singles secret weapon in next month’s Thomas Cup.

In the women’s singles final, both Liu Xin and Shen Yaying came into it having played only two complete matches on the week.  Liu Xin, a former top 5 shuttler and defending champion at the China Masters, has played only a handful of international tournaments since winning in Changzhou in September, and has dropped to #59 in the BWF world rankings.  However, she still managed to handle Shen Yaying, the 2011 Asian Junior Championship runner-up, in straight games.  This will be 2-0 head to head for Liu as she also defeated Shen in the China Masters last autumn.

Luo Yu / Luo Ying, the top seeds of this tournament, and Huang Yaqiong / Yu Xiaohan took to the court for the women’s doubles final.  The two pairs played a very long match, yet the twins managed to finish it in straight games in 65 minutes.

In the second game, Huang/Yu led 19-15 and were hopeful of forcing a third game, but the Luo sisters held the youngsters at 19 and took the game 21-19 to be crowned with another title in their homeland after topping the China International Challenge 2014 in January.  Huang and Yu, meanwhile, have now prevailed in only one of five Grand Prix Gold finals they have contested in the past 9 months.

Yilu loses two

Wang Yilu (pictured above) began the day on Sunday with not one, but two, opportunities to take a title in the 2014 China Masters, but this time he came up short in both men’s and mixed doubles.  In the men’s doubles, Kang Jun / Liu Cheng (pictured above right) successfully overcame Wang Yilu and Zhang Wen to get the first title of their partnership.  Kang and Liu won in straight games over Wang and Zhang, whose first title together had been earlier this year, at the China International, where Wang had enjoyed his double doubles success.

In the mixed doubles, Wang had to face his former partner Huang Yaqiong, with whom he had bagged the gold at the India GPG 2014.  Huang herself was trying to make the most of her second chance at a title in Changzhou, after her earlier loss in women’s doubles.  Wang, now playing with Xia Huan, again failed to get to the top of the podium.  Instead, it was Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong (pictured right) repeating their success from both the Macau and Malaysia Grand Prix Golds.

Final results
WD: Luo Ying / Luo Yu (CHN) [1] beat Huang Yaqiong / Yu Xiaohan (CHN)  21-17, 21-19
MD: Kang Jun / Liu Cheng (CHN) [1] beat Wang Yilu / Zhang Wen (CHN)  21-13, 21-16
WS: Liu Xin (CHN) beat Shen Yaying (CHN)  21-12, 21-18
MS: Lin Dan (CHN) beat Tian Houwei (CHN) [2]  21-14, 21-9
XD: Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) [3] beat Wang Yilu / Xia Huan (CHN)  21-12, 21-14

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