SS FINALS Day 2016 3 – Two new champions coming

Four-time winner Lee Chong Wei was ousted from the Superseries Finals by Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, who scored the first win of his career against the world #1. By Don Hearn.  […]

Four-time winner Lee Chong Wei was ousted from the by Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, who scored the first win of his career against the world #1.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Raphael Sachetat / Badmintonphoto (live)

On the first day of the 2016 Finals in Dubai, Korea’s Son Wan Ho was celebrating what was only his second career victory over the great Lee Chong Wei (pictured top).  But for Lee, who only barely qualified for this year’s edition of the season finale, there was to be no weekend action.

On Friday, Lee fell to Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen (pictured) in the last round robin match of their group.  Lee took the first game handily but the Dane bounced back to win the second by an identical 21-14 scoreline.

Axelsen shot out to a very promising 10-4 lead early in the decider but he couldn’t maintain it and the Malaysian caught him at 17-all.  Axelsen got to match point when Lee Chong Wei was faulted for touching the net and although he saved one match point, the Malaysian gifted the victory to Axelsen with a service error at 19-20.

The loss means that the only past winner of the men’s singles title at this tournament has been eliminated.  Son Wan Ho lost his match to Ng Ka Long but still finished atop the group on account of his Thursday win over Axelsen.  The draw on Friday evening forced a repeat of the round robin matches for both semi-finals and so Son, who only narrowly defeated Axelsen before, will have to do so again if he wants to reach the final.

Men’s doubles is the other discipline where there will have to be a new champion.  The only returning winners this year were Denmark’s Boe/Mogensen.  After narrowly edging out their compatriots Astrup/Rasmussen to qualify for Dubai, Mathias Boe fell ill and the Danes had to withdraw on the eve of the tournament.

The last semi-final spot to be decided went on Friday to Japan’s Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda (pictured).  It was a battle between two of the most exciting new pairs in the discipline, both of whom won their first Superseries titles in 2016.

Kamura and Sonoda, who had won the last of the ‘regular season’ Superseries events, in Hong Kong, had the momentum on their side and they attacked relentlessly until they had seen China Open winners Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo off in straight games.  The second game became very tense indeed as the Indonesians erased no fewer than six match points before the top seeds finally won it on the seventh opportunity.

In the semi-finals, the Japanese pair will play a rematch against the undefeated Mads Conrad-Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding and will hope to do better than their two-game loss on Wednesday.  In the other semi-final Goh/Tan will attempt to replicate their win over Chai/Hong, whom they edged out 22-20 in their deciding game on Friday afternoon.

Only one Rio gold medallist remains

In the women’s singles, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (pictured) of India faced Spain’s Carolina Marin for the first time since they met in the gold medal match in Rio.  This time, Sindhu was the one who ruled.  The China Open champion handed Marin her third straight loss in Dubai and booked her spot in the semis, alongside fellow first-time Dubai qualifier Sun Yu.

Sun beat out Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi in three rather one-sided games.  She will play 2014 winner Tai Tzu Ying in the semi-finals, after the new world #1 was beaten by Sung Ji Hyun.  Both Tai and Sung had already booked their semi-final spots and their match served only to determine who would top their group.

Women’s doubles features the only Rio gold medallist.  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi, who won the event in 2014, remained undefeated when they beat Korea’s Chang Ye Na / Lee So Hee in two but both pairs advance to the semis.

The Japanese world #1s will play a repeat of their Rio final against Denmark’s Kamilla Rytter Juhl / Christinna Pedersen.  The Danes only secured their spot in the final four by repeating their own Rio victory over Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan (pictured bottom).

Shin’s former partner Lee So Hee is not the only first-time Dubai qualifier to reach the semis, however, as Chinese teenagers Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan topped their group and will play a repeat of their French Open final against Lee and Chang on Saturday.  They have beaten the Koreans five times in a row.

The title defense

The only discipline where a defending champion remains is the mixed doubles.  Chris and Gabrielle Adcock saw off Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (pictured) in two close games in the last match on Friday.  They will have to play next against the in-form Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto, who remained undefeated by beating the Danes in straight games.

Mixed is also one of only two disciplines where two returning champions are still involved.  Three-time winners Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen still qualified for the semis and will take on Dubai rookies Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen, who topped their group.  Pedersen, of course, won both women’s doubles and mixed in 2013 and she reached the semis in both disciplines again this year.

Semi-finals line-up (repeats from round-robin stage shown in italics)
10:00 AM
WD:  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [1] vs. Kamilla Rytter Juhl / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) [2]
MS:  Jan O Jorgensen (DEN) [1] vs. Tian Houwei (CHN) [3/4]
WD:  Chang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR) [3/4] vs. Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) [5/8]
XD:  Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto (INA) [5/8] vs. Chris Adcock / Gabrielle Adcock (ENG) [5/8]
WS:  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) [1] vs. Sun Yu (CHN) [3/4]

4:00 PM
MD:  Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) [1] vs. Mads Conrad-Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding (DEN) [5/8]
MS:  Son Wan Ho (KOR) [2] vs. Viktor Axelsen (DEN) [5/8]

WS:  Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) [3/4] vs. Pusarla V. Sindhu (IND) [5/8]
XD:  Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) [3] vs. Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN) [4]
MD:  Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) [2] vs. Chai Biao / Hong Wei (CHN) [3/4]

Click here for complete Friday 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 @