DENMARK OPEN 2018 – The best are the best

The 2018 Denmark Open marked the first time in at least a decade that all five titles were won by the world #1 shuttlers. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Mark Phelan […]

The 2018 marked the first time in at least a decade that all five titles were won by the world #1 shuttlers.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Mark Phelan and Yohan Nonotte / Badmintonphoto (live)

The 2018 Denmark Open started with some incredible upsets, including two reigning World Champions losing in the first round and three of last year’s losing in the second, many of them to much lower-ranked opponents.  But that trend had reversed itself by the weekend in Odense, when all fifteen matches went to the higher seeds in the semis in finals.  Still, it was the very lack of upsets on finals day that set it apart.

In fact, it has been so long since five world #1s won on one day of finals that it is now impossible to even determine when the last time was.  In 2010, the Badminton World Federation () upgraded its online world ranking presentation system, making it interactive and user-friendly, but unfortunately at the same time seemed to have permanently deleted all of its ranking data from prior to October 2009.  This makes it impossible to say with certainty who held what world ranking on any given date but we can be sure that this type of world #1-quintuple has not happened since at least before January 2007, when the was inaugurated.  Of course, five top seeds winning is not uncommon, as we don’t always see all of the world #1 players entering the same tournament.  What’s more, we have situations as with , when the seedings were done about a week before he ascended to the #1 spot and he ended up seeded second for Denmark.

The afternoon started off with women’s singles.  It was rather typical of the day in that the favourite, Tai Tzu Ying (pictured above), had enjoyed a distinct advantage over her opponent in 2018 and was also looking to add to an already impressive collection of titles from this year.  In fact, she hadn’t lost to Saina Nehwal in nearly six years.

The Indian got the better of Tai in the second game but in the end it was the Chinese Taipei shuttler who left with her 8th title of the year.  Saina Nehwal may be been dominated in the deciding game but she still showed more fight than in her last final against Tai, at the Indonesia Masters.  She has had a respectable year in all, in fact, as this was her third final, including her win at the Commonwealth Games, and she also picked up bronze in the Asian Games.

Mixed doubles top seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong may only have enjoyed a single win over their opponents in the Denmark Open final but they came in with almost as many titles as Tai Tzu Ying had.  The Chinese pair had been pushed to three games in their only previous encounter with Thailand’s Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (pictured) and they prevented that from happening this time.  They won the shortest match of the day and picked up their 7th title so far in 2018.

The women’s doubles winners were the ones with the smallest title collection and they had only beaten their opponents twice this year.  Still, Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota (pictured) were playing in their 8th final of the year and they emerged with their 5th title in 2018, adding to the Asian Championship and the Japan, Indonesia, and German Opens.

The top seeds in the men’s disciplines were the only ones who came on court on Sunday having lost to their opponents in 2018.  Most notably, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (pictured bottom) had conceded defeat at the World Championships to their opponents Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda of Japan.  Still, they got the better of the world #4 in Odense, picking up their 7th title of the year.

Kento Momota was the top seed but he took over the world #1 spot from in late September.  He came in with a 3-match winning streak over Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen but the world #4 won their first meeting in 2018 en route to winning the German Open.

Chou Tien Chen has been one of the busiest top ten players in the past few months, if not the past year.  He has played 7 tournaments (plus the Asian Games team event) in the last 12 weeks and in the last 8 weeks, he has reached 5 semi-finals, converting 3 of those into appearances in the finals.

Chou’s stamina issues were not helped by the end of the first game.  After the two players battled to 20-all, Kento Momota (pictured right) hit an impossibly good net tumble then was not faulted even though the reply clearly showed he’d reached over the net to kill a reply from Chou that was not going to even make it over the net.  Momota beat Chou on the same front forehand corner one rally later and claimed the first game 22-20.

Chou bounced back to win the second game – despite being unable to convert on his first 4 game point opportunities – but then Momota surged ahead late in the decider to cap off his victory.  Momota thus claimed his 5th title of the year.  As two of these were the World and the Asian Championships, he has been accumulating slightly fewer points on the and is now the only world #1 who did not also finish the weekend on top of the Race to Guangzhou standings.

All of the finalists will now head to Paris for the French Open .  Chou Tien Chen and Zheng/Huang have put themselves in the position such that they are assured of qualifying for the World Tour Finals as long as they merely step on court for their first round matches in Paris, Fuzhou, and Hong Kong.

Final results
WS:  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) [1] beat Saina Nehwal (IND)  21-13, 13-21, 21-6
XD:  Zheng Siwei / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) (IND) [1] beat Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA)  21-16, 21-13
WD:  Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) [1] beat Shiho Tanaka Koharu Yonemoto (JPN) [5]  21-19, 21-16
MD:  Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) [1] beat Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) [4]  21-15, 21-16
MS:  Kento Momota (JPN) [2] beat Chou Tien Chen (TPE) [4]  22-20, 16-21, 21-15

Click here for complete results

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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