ALL ENGLAND 2015 Finals – Marin first for Spain

Yet again Carolina Marin came back from a game down in a top tournament to beat the favourite, but this her first victory against Saina Nehwal was emphatic. This followed […]

Yet again Carolina Marin came back from a game down in a top tournament to beat the favourite, but this her first victory against Saina Nehwal was emphatic. This followed the world number ones Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei take apart three time defending champions Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir. Defending champions Wang and Yu were also swept aside, this time by younger compatriots Bao and Tang.

By Michael Burke, Badzine Correspondent, live from Birmingham.  Photos: Yohan Nonotte and Raphael Sachetat for Badmintonphoto (live).

Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir (pictured right) faced rivals and world number ones Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei (pictured left) for the first time since last year’s Asian Games final.  The Indonesians had the worst start, however, as they lost 7 straight points before the mid-game interval as the pair struggled to defend.

Far from being a return to the form they showed in the last two finals, the result was even more disastrous than in Incheon.  The Indonesians were clearly nervous and continued in the same vein in the second game as a one-sided, error-strewn match ensued culminating in a heavy defeat, 21-10, 21-10 to the Chinese.

“We’re obviously very disappointed that was a bad game, they were playing to their full potential and we definitely weren’t,” Liliyana said afterward.

“We were under pressure from the start – Tontowi particularly – that’s the reason for so many smashes into the net.”

The Chinese pair was understandably ecstatic: “We’re very happy and excited, we’ve lost this two years in a row. The preparation was key, our coach gave us some very good advice,” said Zhao.

“We have been a dominating pair for a while now but we haven’t always converted it into titles; this is the first since 2010.

“To get a big win in the first big event of the year gives us confidence and is good preparation for Rio. The competition is so fierce.  With the likes of the Danish and Indonesians all playing with different styles it is difficult.  We just need to practise well.”

The only other defending champions on the day, Chinese veterans Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, also fell rather tamely but this time to compatriots Bao Yixin and Tang Yuanting (pictured left).  The younger pair were in complete control, and with a near impenetrable defence, they out-muscled the three-time winners 21-14, 21-14.

“I think because our opponents have won many titles before, we came in with nothing to lose, so we just looked to learn from them,” said Tang, who endeared herself to the local crowd by thanking them in English as well as Chinese.

Carolina Marin (pictured right) looked blown away in the first game against Indian Saina Nehwal, but fought hard to save 5 game points. Whilst it wasn’t enough to save the game, it gave her some momentum for a much closer second game.

The Spaniard carried a seven-point into the changeover in the deciding game and her opponent could only score three more points in what was a complete destruction of Saina’s game.

“I feel really happy.  I was so nervous in the first game I couldn’t control myself. I did many easy mistakes,” said Carolina.

“In the second game, when I was down 11-9, I listened to my coach and then tried to focus on sticking to my game plan. I tried to keep the shuttle on court and make long rallies. I wanted to put pressure on her, to make it faster, more speed.”

Saina was obviously disappointed: “I didn’t fight that well and I just made lots of small mistakes. The game went away from my hand, and Carolina was playing very well.

“She was getting into good form and I wasn’t able to go with her and then I lost my focus.”

The full results for the day can be found here.

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