FRENCH OPEN 2018 Finals – Chen Long at last

The year-long starvation finally came to an end for reigning Olympic champion Chen Long, who clinched the title in Paris after a stressful match over his teammate Shi Yuqi. For […]

The year-long starvation finally came to an end for reigning Olympic champion Chen Long, who clinched the title in Paris after a stressful match over his teammate Shi Yuqi. For the second time in a row, Asian Games champions Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo lost to Chinese youngsters Zhou Haodong and Han Chengkai while Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi stopped Chinese Taipei’s jewel Tai Tzu Ying in an hour-long match.

By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent live in Paris.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

At last!

Relief. That was the only word that could be read on Chen Long’s face after his win over Shi Yuqi. After a long year spent with no trophies to lift, the former World Champion was obviously suffering from this particular form of famine. After his win yesterday against the current World Champion and in-form Kento Momota, Chen Long (photo) was only left with no choice but to win in Paris.

I am extremely happy to have won in Paris.  This is my first time winning here.  I didn’t think too much during the match.  I kept thinking point by point and it worked out well,” confessed Chen Long.

Shi Yuqi, former winner in Paris, was forced to abdicate against his senior teammate, who took it in two games 21-17, 21-19, in a very mental game.

Minions defeated

They were severely pushed during their week in Paris but still managed to make it to the final, until the new incredible pair of Zhou Haodong and Han Chengkai (photo) decided they would also win a major title. Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo found better than them today, and could not win a second tournament in a row.

The incredible pace set by the Chinese pair, along with their strong smashes, were a real source of joy for the public, a speed that didn’t please the Indonesians: “In the first game we almost got it but couldn’t finish it well.  They were ahead of us in the end and I made too many mistakes,” said Gideon.

Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo added, “The Chinese are very fast and strong.  Today they were simply the best.

The 20-year-olds from China eventually gathered their last energy to finish it off 23-21, 8-21, 21-17.

We won the first game and in the beginning the second game, they served really well, but in the third we did our best to correct ourselves and keep focused,” said Han Chengkai.

Zhou Haodong added, “We are really happy to win.  It’s simply beyond our expectations.”

Zheng and Huang – Unbeatable?

Exactly as they did in their season so far, the Chinese combination of Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong dominated the whole competition once more, with no major prospects available to beat the World Champions once again in Paris. The Chinese duo took on the up-and coming Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yoo Jung in today’s final, and forced the Koreans to be content with a runner-up finish what was the first final for either player in a -equivalent tournament.

Becoming the only world #1s to win the tournament, right after the #1 quintuple they were part of in Denmark last week, the pair appreciated playing in front of the French spectators: “The crowd this year in Paris, is definitely much more consequent and you can feel that they are really into the game.  I really enjoyed playing in this atmosphere,” said Zheng Siwei.

The pair only took two games to beat the Koreans, for their first clash, winning 21-19, 21-14.

Our performance this time was really good from the very beginning of the match and this helped us of course to win in the end,” added Zheng Siwei.

Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi finally managed to beat her arch nemesis Tai Tzu Ying, after more than a year, in a delightful three-game final. The top Japanese player, as always, displayed her impressive retrieving abilities, despite having played a tiring semi-final against He Bingjiao yesterday.  The world #3, in spite of losing the second game, never seemed to be missing stamina to counter-attack her opponent.

I lost to her on many occasions, so of course it was a big challenge for me against Tai Tzu Ying, since she’s the top player in the world and obviously very successful in tournaments,” said Yamaguchi.

On her tactics for beating the world #1, Yamaguchi – who lost in the final last year against the same player – honestly replied, “I chose to not attack a lot and prevent her from playing long rallies today.”

Women’s doubles World Champions Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara finally succeeded in grabbing one of the biggest tournament titles on the HSBC . The Japanese pair splendidly beat the Bulgarian surprise guests of this tournament, the Stoeva sisters in a beautiful two-game final.  Very steady and powerful throughout the whole match, the Stoeva sisters never found a way to prevent the world #5 from lifting the trophy.

The shuttles were pretty slow for this tournament, so  it was difficult for us to attack,” said Wakana Nagahara. “Still we are very happy to have won in Paris, but we still have to improve several areas of our game.”

After the World Championships, we didn’t manage to win a big tournament, but this time we did it so we are very relieved to have won in France,” added Mayu Matsutomo after the 21-14 21-19 victor that made them the new title holders in Paris.

The show is over. The lived up to the new standard of this status demanded and the new set-up with the public hidden under bark lights worked wonders. Next week, the Macau Open Super 300 coincides with a Super 100 in Saarbrucken, then the China and Hong Kong Opens offer major points to grab, followed by three more smaller events before the World Tour Finals in Guangzhou in December.

Final results
XD:  Zheng Siwei / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) [1] beat Seo Seung Jae / Chae Yoo Jung  21-19, 21-14
MD:  Han Chengkai / Zhou Haodong (CHN) beat Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) [1]  23-21, 8-21, 21-17
WD:  Mayu Matsumoto / Wakana Nagahara (JPN) [5] beat Gabriela Stoeva / Stefani Stoeva (BUL)  21-14 21-19
WS:  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) [2] beat Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) [1] 22-20, 17-21, 21-13
MS:  Chen Long (CHN) [6] beat Shi Yuqi (CHN) [2] 21-17, 21-19

Click here for complete results


About Tarek Hafi