ASIAN CHAMPS 2015 SF – Four look to repeat

Lin Dan, Yoo Yeon Seong, and Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah are all looking to repeat as Asian Champions as the 2015 edition heads into its finale in […]

Lin Dan, Yoo Yeon Seong, and Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah are all looking to repeat as Asian Champions as the 2015 edition heads into its finale in Wuhan.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

The best of Asia gathered in Wuhan, China this week to decide who is the best on the continent.  After a week fraught with withdrawals, retirements and walkovers, the ten finalists have finally earned their spots for Sunday.  One pair and two additional players have the chance to repeat their success from last year in Gimcheon but the last few days have also borne some resemblance to the Asian Games.

Mixed doubles was the first to be decided and defending champions Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah (pictured) of Hong Kong seemed to benefit from their experience against opponents for whom the semi-final match was their first appearance on court all week!  Japan’s Kenichi Hayakawa and Misaki Matsutomo saw their first round opponents withdraw along with both prospective second round opponents, only to find top seeds Zhang/Zhao call it quits after their first victory.

Lee and Chau won it in straight games to book a spot in their first final since they beat Shin and Jang on home turf last spring.  The withdrawal of the top seeds made sure that that side of the semi-final draw would not resemble the Asian Games but in the bottom half, Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir posted another straight-game win over Xu Chen and Ma Jin to reach their second final of the year.

Ma to take on former partner

Ma Jin will still have a shot at a continental title, looking for her first since 2009.  She and Tang Yuanting played just one game before defending champions Luo/Luo threw in the towel due to injury.

Ma’s opponent will be Wang Xiaoli, who was her partner for her sole Asian title but Wang will be looking for her third title with Yu Yang just before the pair is split for the next two Superseries events.  Wang and Yu hung on to claim victory over the current world #1s Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (pictured above) after a whopping 88 minutes on court.

Men’s favourites look for year’s first titles

Lin Dan won his match against compatriot Wang Zhengming but contrary to expectations, he will not have a rematch against world #1 Chen Long.  Chen, who has beaten Lin Dan twice since losing to his legendary compatriot in the Asian Games gold medal match, ceded a walkover to Tian Houwei, meaning that only half of the all-Chinese men’s singles semi-final round was part of the Saturday afternoon programme in Wuhan.

Yoo Yeon Seong is looking to defend his title in the men’s doubles but he is the only finalist from the 2014 edition to return.  The Wuhan final will, however, be a repeat of the Asian Games gold medal match against former World Champions Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (pictured above).

While the Koreans’ 41-minute semi-final victory over compatriots Kim/Kim was their longest match of the week, the Indonesians had to weather another close call against a strong home pair.  It wasn’t quite the nail-biter that their quarter-final was, where they had to save two match points.  Still, it took the Indonesians nearly an hour to see off Cai/Lu in three.

Li pushed to the limit

In the women’s singles, the repeat of the Asian Games final came a round early as Li Xuerui (pictured) and Wang Yihan played a marathon semi-final.  Li Xuerui was playing catch-up in the first two games, erasing an 18-12 lead in the first before finally conceding the game, then saving two match points in the second before snatching it 24-22.

In the deciding game, it was Wang Yihan who saved two match points but Li Xuerui had the steady hand in the end and she emerged the victor after 74 minutes.

Li Xuerui goes on to face Ratchanok Intanon, who beat Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.  Ratchanok is now looking to be Thailand’s first Asian singles champion ever.  To accomplish that, she’ll have to beat the mighty Li, from whom she hasn’t taken a game since she won the final of the World Championships in 2013.

Finals line-up
XD: Tontowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir (INA) [2] vs. Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah (HKG)
WS: Li Xuerui (CHN) [1] vs. Ratchanok Intanon (THA) [7]
WD: Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) [4] vs. Ma Jin / Tang Yuanting (CHN)
MS: Lin Dan (CHN) [2] vs. Tian Houwei  (CHN)
MD: Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) [1] vs. Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) [6]

Click here for complete semi-final results

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 @