CHINA OPEN Finals – Chen and Yamaguchi back on top

Akane Yamaguchi and Chen Long each took their first Superseries title of the year at the China Open in Fuzhou. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto (live) For […]

Akane Yamaguchi and Chen Long each took their first title of the year at the in Fuzhou.

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

For Akane Yamaguchi, it had been just over a year.  For Chen Long, it had been over two years.  The China Open Superseries Premier was the place each of them would finally put it back together again.

Chen Long came into the final having won only the Asian title this year.  In fact, that was the only time he had topped the podium since the Rio Olympics.  His performances in the Superseries to date had been so lacking that he was languishing down at #20 in the Dubai qualifications and most people had written him off from qualifying for the season-ender.

All that changed this week in Fuzhou.  He needed three games but the deciding game was convincingly his and he earned his win over Viktor Axelsen, his successor as World Champion.  With the win, Chen Long (pictured above) has also moved to a mere 800 points out of qualification for the .  He and current #8 Wong Wing Ki are both in very tough quarters in next week’s Hong Kong Open.

Akane Yamaguchi (pictured right), too, had won only one tournament so far this year.  That was the German Open back in March.  However, she had also been in three other Superseries finals this year.

In the final, Akane Yamaguchi had no intention of falling victim to Chinese youngster Gao Fangjie (pictured bottom).  Gao had already disposed of all three Rio medallists in the earlier rounds, if you count bronze medallist and reigning World Champion Okuhara, who retired after one rally.  Yamaguchi finished off the 19-year-old in straight games to claim her first Superseries title since last autumn’s Denmark Open.

There were no long hiatuses ended in the doubles events.  In men’s doubles, the top two seeds met.  Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen came in with two Superseries titles so far this year, while Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (pictured left) came in looking for their fifth title in 2017.

It was the third time these two pairs had met in a Superseries final, the first being at this very tournament last November.  The Danes had gained the upper hand for most of 2017 but the world #1s from Indonesia had gotten back the edge when they met in the semi-finals in Japan and their advantage continued today.

The first game was neck-and-neck but Gideon and Sukamuljo caught fire halfway through the second game.  They played stellar defense throughout but were completely controlling the rallies toward the end and they claimed victory in just 40 minutes.

In contrast to the men’s doubles, the women’s and mixed finals featured mostly new pairings.  Still, in women’s doubles, it was the World Champions and not defending champion Lee So Hee and her new partner Kim Hye Rin who emerged on top.

To the Koreans’ credit, they avoided what looked like an impending blowout by bouncing back from a dismal opening game to stay on top throughout the second, looking like a completely different pair.  Kim Hye Rin, in particular, was agile, confident, and in control, unlike the nervous and rigid version of herself from the first game.

In the deciding game, Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan (pictured) just had all the answers to the Korean attacking game and Kim and Lee were visibly frustrated when they couldn’t take advantage of some excellent opportunities to finish rallies.  The Chinese pair surged ahead from an early 3-7 deficit and owned the court for the rest of the game, taking their second Superseries title of the year to add to their World Championship crown.

Mixed doubles featured two brand-new pairs but Denmark’s Mathias Christiansen / Christinna Pedersen showed none of the form that had seen them prevail over the World Champions, the world #7 pair, and the new partnership of Tang Jinhua with All England winner Lu Kai.  Instead, it was the new partnership world #1 Zheng Siwei and #2 Huang Yaqiong (pictured left) who won the shortest final of the day.

Zheng and Huang thus won their second title in their two weeks as a pair as they came to Fuzhou having just snatched the top honours at the Macau Open.  They will now travel back down to the Pearl River delta to attempt to add the Hong Kong Open title to their fast-growing collection.

Final results
WS:  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) [5] beat Gao Fangjie (CHN)  21-13, 21-15
MD:  Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) [1] beat Mathias Boe Carsten Mogensen (DEN) [2]  21-19, 21-11
WD:  Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) [2] beat Kim Hye Rin / Lee So Hee (KOR) [8]  21-7, 18-21, 21-14
XD:  Zheng Siwei / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) [5] beat Mathias Christiansen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN)  21-15, 21-11
MS:  Chen Long (CHN) [6] beat Viktor Axelsen (DEN) [1]  21-16, 14-21, 21-13

Click here for complete results

Related Images:

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