INDIA OPEN 2015 SF – World Champion downed by predecessor

Reigning women’s singles World Champion Carolina Marin was edged out of the India Open Superseries by 2013 World Champion Ratchanok Intanon in a thrilling 84-minute contest. By Don Hearn.  Photos: […]

Reigning women’s singles World Champion Carolina Marin was edged out of the by 2013 World Champion Ratchanok Intanon in a thrilling 84-minute contest.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

Carolina Marin came to Delhi for for 2015 Yonex-Sunrise India Open not only looking for her second career Superseries title, but also with a possibility of becoming the new women’s singles world #1.  Both prospects fluttered away during her semi-final against  Ratchanok Intanon (pictured left) of Thailand, the woman who in 2013 won both the World Championship and this very India Open crown as an 18-year-old.

But what a semi-final it was!  Marin looked to be running away with the first game, surging out to a commanding 17-9 lead.  Ratchanok, who had already used up both of her line call challenges, suddenly embarked on an astounding 10-point run to completely reverse the momentum of the game.  Marin did fight back for a pair of points of her own but Ratchanok soon won 21-19 to take a one-game lead.

The second game had fewer reversals but a closer finish.  Ratchanok had a smaller deficit to make up and from 3-8 down early in the game, she had tied Carolina Marin (pictured right) by 10-all.  After Ratchanok saved one game point and Marin one match point, the game ended tamely 23-21 in the Spaniard’s favour and the match was headed to a decider.

Ratchanok led throughout most of the third game but Marin caught her six times in total, including when she saved two match points to tie it at 20-all.  Intanon held on at the end, though, and made her way into her first final since last year’s Indonesia Open.

Saina cruises to the final, and to the top of the world

In the other three singles semi-finals, the upset perpetrators were simply unable to follow through.  Yui Hashimoto of Japan, after beating former Asian Games silver medallist Yip Pui Yin in the quarters, was no match for home favourite Saina Nehwal (pictured below).

Saina’s place as the new world #1 was sealed as soon as Marin lost her semi-final but by making the final, she made the other result irrelevant.  She will take her place on Thursday as the top player in women’s singles badminton, the first non-Chinese player to earn that distinction since Tine Baun in December 2010.

Hashimoto lasted only slightly longer than China’s Xue Song.  In his men’s singles semi-final, Xue went down to home favourite Kidambi Srikanth (pictured below), to the further delight of the home fans.

The other men’s singles semi-final promised to be an intriguing battle.  Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia was fresh off an invigorating victory over the great Lin Dan in the quarter-finals.  Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, meanwhile was looking for his second straight finals appearance, having lost to Srikanth in the Swiss Open final earlier this month.

In the first game, Tommy continued to provide the thrills.  He fought back to save four game points en route to winning the game 24-22.  It all came to an abrupt end, however, as the Indonesian was forced to retire in the second game with an injury.

A first time, but not for everybody

The India Open has a habit of providing its winners with their first ever Superseries titles.  Ratchanok Intanon had that experience two years ago and in fact, of the 15 title historical winners of the India Open in its 4 Superseries editions, no fewer than 8 have found their first Superseries success at this event.

While Viktor Axelsen, Liu Cheng, and the Luo twins will be hoping to add their names to the list, it is already certain that the men’s doubles will feature a first-time winner.  Hong Wei has been in five so far in his career but has yet to convert.  In the court opposite Hong and Chai Biao will be Denmark’s Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding (pictured below), who are both hungry for their first title.

Pieler Kolding is actually playing in the first Superseries final of his career, while Conrad-Petersen was runner-up in Malaysia four years ago with former partner Jonas Rasmussen.  To reach the final, the two already had to accomplish another first, scoring their inaugural victory in international play against compatriots Boe/Mogensen.

The first game saw the younger shuttlers maintain the lead for most of the game, but Boe/Mogensen were persistent.  The All England champions saved four game points before the two Madses won it 25-23 on the fifth try.  The second game went smoother and the 7th seeds finished it off in straight games.

Twins Luo Ying and Yu had a similar pattern but needed no fewer than 7 game points to finish off their first game 29-27 against compatriots Bao Yixin / Tang Jinhua, which they followed up with only a slightly more decisive win in the second.  They will take on former world #1’s Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi, who had to weather a late storm from Denmark’s Pedersen and Rytter Juhl before winning in three.

The mixed final is on seed after the brilliant runs by two roughly year-old Indonesian pairs.  Though ranked #5 in the world already, Liu Cheng is still looking for a career first Superseries title and he and Bao Yixin are still in the hunt for their first title together since they won the World Junior Championship, five years ago next month.

Finals line-up
WD: Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [1] vs. Luo Ying / Luo Yu (CHN) [2]
XD: Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) [1] vs. Liu Cheng / Bao Yixin (CHN) [2]
MD: Chai Biao / Hong Wei (CHN) [3] vs. Mads Conrad-Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding (DEN) [7]
WS: Saina Nehwal (IND) [1] vs. Ratchanok Intanon (THA) [3]
MS: Kidambi Srikanth (IND) [2] vs. Viktor Axelsen (DEN) [6]

Click here for complete semi-final results

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Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net