MALAYSIA MASTERS Finals – Tang/Tse snap Chinese winning streak

Tse Ying Suet and Tang Chun Man block Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong from winning their fourth straight title, dealing the new pair the first defeat in their partnership to […]

Tse Ying Suet and Tang Chun Man block Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong from winning their fourth straight title, dealing the new pair the first defeat in their partnership to win the title for themselves.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Coming into finals day at the Malaysia Masters, mixed doubles world #1 Zheng Siwei was already on a four-tournament winning streak.  Before capping off 2017 with a repeat title at the Finals in Dubai, the Chinese youngster had just enjoyed three weeks unbeaten with brand new partner Huang Yaqiong.

The week in Kuala Lumpur did not start as convincingly as 2017 ended, however.  For the first time since pairing up for the Macau Open, Zheng and Huang were forced to save match points on their opponents’ end before they finally pulled away from Danes Nohr/Thygesen in the first round.

It was much clearer sailing after that but for the 5th time in the last 7 tournaments, Zheng had to face Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet.  In fact, it was his 3rd final against the Hong Kong pair since October but the first one where he was playing with new partner Huang Yaqiong.  The Chinese pair got the upper hand in the first game but although they evened the score at 20-all in the second, they were unable to keep the match from going to a deciding game, where the two in-form lefthanders would seal the championship by taking it 21-18.

In fact, both Chinese finalists fell early on Sunday afternoon.  Women’s doubles world #1 Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan suffered their first loss to Olympic silver medallists Kamilla Rytter Juhl / Christinna Pedersen (pictured above) in nearly two years.  The Danes had only a slight edge in each game but still managed to finish it in two.

The victory makes it the second year in a row that the Danish veterans have titled in their first outing of the season.  Last January, they opened 2017 with a title at the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold event.

As in the mixed doubles, the men’s singles final was sent to a third game after the world #1 went to extra points but couldn’t prevail in the second.  It didn’t end as happily for Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto, however.  He did erase a 15-11 lead by Viktor Axelsen (pictured) late in the decider but the Dane soon finished it off and Nishimoto is thus still waiting for his first major tournament title.

There are only three active players who have winning records against current women’s singles world #1 Tai Tzu Ying.  As Sun Yu hasn’t played since the World Championships and Li Xuerui hasn’t been seen since Rio, that basically leaves Ratchanok Intanon (pictured below).

Tai and the Thai may be perfectly even over the course of the 14 months the Chinese Taipei shuttler has been atop the world rankings but on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur it was Intanon again and she extended her winning streak to three.  It was a hard-fought 65 minutes and the top seed reached match point first but Intanon weathered the storm and took the decider 24-22.

The last match featured the most heart-breaking missed match point opportunities because it denied the crowd the joy of a home title.  Olympic silver medallists Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong blew an 18-13 lead in their second game against Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto (pictured bottom) of Indonesia.  They almost made up for it by earning a match point at 22-21 but they let slip the game and then the match with a one-sided decider.

The Indonesians thus picked up the biggest title of their career.  Their previous best was a Grand Prix title in 2015 and this one should see them knocking on the door of the world’s top ten though they will likely be just one notch short when the new rankings are published on Thursday.

Alfian and Ardianto will be the most confident of the shuttlers looking ahead to next week as the continues with a new and improved Indonesia Masters, se to kick off in Jakarta in a few days’ time.

Final results
XD:  Tang Chun Man / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) [2] beat Zheng Siwei / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) [5]  19-21, 22-20, 21-18
WD:  Kamilla Rytter Juhl / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) [3] beat Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) [1]  22-20, 21-18
MS:  Viktor Axelsen (DEN) [1] beat Kenta Nishimoto (JPN)  21-13, 21-23, 21-18
WS:  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) [5] beat Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) [1]  21-16, 14-21, 24-22
MD:  Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto (INA) beat Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS)  14-21, 24-22, 21-13

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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