BRAZIL OPEN 2015 – Dress rehearsal for Lin Dan?

Lin Dan logically won the Brazil Open Grand Prix in the venue which will welcome the Olympic Games next year in Rio. His compatriots helped with a clean sweep from […]

Lin Dan logically won the Brazil Open in the venue which will welcome the Olympic Games next year in Rio. His compatriots helped with a clean sweep from China in all events. A sign of what could happen in August 2016?

By Raphael Sachetat. Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Lin Dan (pictured) had decided to make the trip to Rio, not because of the points at stake, but clearly because he wanted to feel the atmosphere. To see the place. To project himself in the future – exactly 9 months from now, when Rio’s Olympics will be about to start.  The Chinese wonder has made it clear that this was the only thing that mattered to him, badminton-wise: to win a third Olympic gold medal. So, all week, he had little trouble against his opponents – all ranked outside the top 30. He did drop a game against Petr Koukal and Zhu Siyuan but clearly not playing full speed. He spent a lot of time signing autographs and smiling for photo requests – probably just as much as the time he spent on court during the week-long tournament, which had been organized exactly how the Olympics would play out- with a round-robin stage before a knock-out draw.

The two-time Olympic champion mentioned to the local press that he had been a bit surprised that the hall was only containing 500 seats as he expected to be playing in the final set-up, but the BWF officials soon reassured him with a statement that the venue will be ready to host 7,000 spectators – as did London’s 2012 Olympics – come August 2016. Lin, however ,was all smiles during his Brazilian week, showing some glimpse of his original style, wearing shoes of different colours – one red, one white – all week long.

In the final, Lin Dan beat the constant fighter Pablo Abian of Spain, 21-13, 21-17. If his victory was not a surprise to anyone, the fact that his younger compatriots clinched the other 4 gold medals is a clear sign that the young generation is to be taken seriously.  Perhaps this won’t be the supporting cast for Rio, as all of these youngsters have little chance of qualifying.  However, these are some likely contenders for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

None have a brighter future than the duo of Chen Qingchen and Zheng Siwei (pictured above), who once again clinched the mixed doubles event. After beating likes of Ahmad/Nastir, the Adocks, Rytter-Juhl/Kolding in 2014, the young duo clinched the World Junior title a few weeks ago in Lima and are about to break into the top 50 after their easy victory 21-12, 21-10 over Russia’s Dremin/Dimova.

They each secured a second title on Sunday, too. Chen with her partner Jia Yifan – with whom she was also crowned World Junior Champions last month – won the women’s doubles, while Zheng Siwei found success in his former partnership with Huang Kaixiang and the 2014 Asian Junior Champions added the Brazil title to the New Zealand Grand Prix Gold they won earlier this year.

In women’s singles, Shen Yaying (pictured) won in Rio her first Grand Prix title, edging her compatriot Li Yun in a thriller that ended 20-22, 21-17, 24-22.

Final results
MD: Huang Kaixiang / Zheng Siwei (CHN) beat Wang Yilv / Zhang Wen (CHN) [2]  22-24, 21-10, 21-14
WD: Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) beat Eefje Muskens / Selena Piek (NED) [1]  21-17, 21-14
WS: Shen Yaying (CHN) beat Li Yun (CHN)  20-22, 21-17, 24-22
MS: Lin Dan (CHN) [1] beat Pablo Abian (ESP) [2]  21-13, 21-17
XD: Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN) beat Evgenij Dremin / Evgenia Dimova (RUS)   21-12, 21-10

Click here for complete results

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.