MEXICO GP 2015 – 3rd time lucky for Attri and Reddy

Manu Attri / B. Sumeeth Reddy took their first Grand Prix title in Mexico City on Sunday, after coming up just short in two previous finals this year. By Don […]

Manu Attri / B. Sumeeth Reddy took their first title in Mexico City on Sunday, after coming up just short in two previous finals this year.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy (pictured) have really come on strong in 2015.  The Indian pair started the season having never reached a semi-final in a major tournament but they corrected that little omission before the end of the first month of the year.  In fact, Attri reached two semi-finals at his home Grand Prix Gold event, the Syed Modi but despite two more Sunday appearances in 2015 with his men’s doubles partner, he had to wait until the last tournament of the season to claim a title.

Attri and Reddy saw off Thailand’s Bodin Issara / Nipitphon Puangpuapech in two close games to finish off the day, the year’s Grand Prix circuit, and their own fantastic year.  The Thais will have to be content with having notched up their point total to close in on the last non-continental spot in the race to qualify for the Rio Olympics.

Familiar singles winners

The Indians are not the only runners-up from last summer’s U.S. Open Grand Prix Gold who took a title in Mexico Ciy on the weekend.  Sayaka Sato (pictured) also did one better than in her June visit to North America.  However, the Japanese shuttler did not have quite as long a wait as did her counterparts in men’s doubles.

Mexico became her second title of the year for Sato.  Her win in the Korea Masters last month may have been a key factor in her being named to Japan’s national A team but it was in Mexico City that she took a title to celebrate.  She needed just two games to beat Bae Yeon Ju for whom, coincidentally, the Korean Grand Prix is also her previous title.  In the Korean’s case, though, the title drought has gone on for more than two years.

Joining Sato in repeating success from Korea was Bae’s compatriot Lee Dong Keun (pictured).  Lee’s heaviest lifting came in the semi-finals, where he took 64 minutes to see off former world #6 Sho Sasaki of Japan.  Still, Thai youngster Pannawit Thongnuam made Lee work for it, winning the first game and keeping the Korean veteran on court for an hour.

The second and third games went mostly Lee’s way, however, and there was to be no early gift for Thongnuam, who turns 20 on Christmas Eve.  The real boon is for Lee Dong Keun, as the points he takes home from Mexico should put him in a tie for 15th spot in the Race to Rio rankings, giving him a tentative ticket for the first time since the qualification period began.

Former top tens back in the ascendance

Former world #3 Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito (pictured below) of Japan got back to their winning ways.  It has been close to five years since their last major title, the 2011 Australian Open.  They won a showdown between the upset queens as they and Thailand’s Supajirakul/Taerattanachai had offed the top two seeds on Saturday.

Like Sato, Matsuo/Naito are actually chasing team-mates in the world rankings.  Japan has two pairs in the top 8 in the Race to Rio standings and the Mexico Grand Prix champions have only narrowed the gap between them and the current #8 pair, their compatriots Fukuman/Yonao.

In the mixed doubles, Korea’s Choi Sol Gyu and Eom Hye Won were also in the hunt for points to both chase down their team-mates and to break into the world’s top 8.  However, they ran up against another former world #3.

The Koreans took their second title of the year last week by winning a grudge match in the final against the pair that had beaten them the week before.  This week is was the turn of Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying (pictured bottom) to avenge their loss to Choi and Eom at last week’s U.S. Grand Prix.  This time, the Malaysians won handily and added the Mexico title to the Russian Open Grand Prix crown they won in the summer.

Many of the finalists have been extremely busy in the past several weeks.  The mixed doubles runners-up, for example, have just finished a solid 7 straight weeks of tournaments and they’ve had only 3 weeks off in the last 15, during which they have reached 4 finals.

The coming week is the first since late September that neither a Grand Prix nor a event will be held but the hiatus will go on for a month, as the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold kicks off on January 19th.  All of the Mexico finalists can expect to begin playing exactly one month after Sunday’s finals, except for Pannawit, who is not entered, and Lee Dong Keun, who will likely have to play a round of 64 match on the first day.

Final results
WS: Sayaka Sato (JPN) [7] beat Bae Yeon Ju (KOR) [2]  21-15, 21-9
XD: Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS) [2] beat Choi Sol Gyu / Eom Hye Won (KOR) [4]  21-14, 21-12
WD: Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito (JPN) beat Puttita Supajirakul / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA)  21-17, 16-21, 21-10
MS: Lee Dong Keun (KOR) [3] beat Pannawit Thongnuam (THA)  19-21, 21-13, 21-12
MD: Manu Attri / B. Sumeeth Reddy (IND) [3] beat Bodin Issara / Nipitphon Puangpuapech (THA)  22-20, 21-18

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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