SS FINALS 2010 Day 5 – Another Happy New Year!

Zhao Yunlei, Yu Yang and Wang Shixian joined Lee Chong Wei in starting the year with a title for the second straight year. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in […]

Zhao Yunlei, Yu Yang and Wang Shixian joined Lee Chong Wei in starting the year with a title for the second straight year.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Taipei.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

It was a close to capacity crowd again when the mixed doubles began on Sunday afternoon, despite the absence of the Chinese Taipei competitors.  The Thai pair stayed close in the first game but suffered from control problems in the second.  The game became a series of short rallies punctuated by Zhao Yunlei’s celebrations when the Thai’s were pressured into sending the shuttle wide or into the net.

“We made too many easy mistakes today, unlike when we played them in the China Masters,” said Sudket after the match, “then we fell behind and started to get nervous.  But they were more consistent and stayed in control of the match.”

“We feel good that our ranking is up,” said Saralee, “but we have to remember that ranking can go up and down so we have to focus on playing well in each tournament, starting with the next Super Series in Malaysia and Korea in a couple of weeks.

“Outside of the badminton world, though, the ranking doesn’t mean much because in Thailand, the sport is not popular like football.”

“Yes, maybe my friend will say ‘Hey, you’re world #2!’ but that’s all,” added Sudket.

Zhang and Zhao admitted that they are getting comfortable in their new position as the top Chinese pair in a discipline China has always been strong in.

“It’s nice to be at the top but there are so many pairs in the world that we can never relax and expect it to continue,” said Zhao Yunlei.  “Last year, I started the year with a win, too, but I can’t just be satisfied with that.  We have to keep trying to win.”

“Our target for this year is to do well in the Sudirman Cup and the World Championships,” said Zhang Nan.

Asked whether he thought he could continue playing both men’s and mixed doubles, in both of which disciplines he is now ranked near the top of the world rankings, Zhang grinned, “I feel that I am still young and I am strong enough to handle it.”

Zhao Yunlei only began a trend that would dominate the afternoon, however.  Two of her team-mates also followed up with their own repeat New Badminton Year celebrations, starting with Wang Shixian, taking the first title of the year for the second straight time, again with a victory over a Korean opponent.

“Starting the year with a victory is of course a good sign for me,” Wang said after the match, “but we can see that there are more and more Koreans in the finals of tournaments and they are coming on very aggressively.  I see this as a challenge and I hope I can stay in front of it and keep winning.

“For 2011, I hope that I can avoid the disappointments that I had last year, like at the Hong Kong Open, and I am focussed on qualifying for the Sudirman Cup team.”

“When I beat Wang in 2007, as juniors, we were still young and she made a lot of errors,” Bae said.  “But in the course of about a year, she became much better at controlling the game and improved her speed and power so she is a much tougher opponent now.

“I have been runner-up twice but I haven’t had the success that Wang has.  I’ve though about what it would be like but I guess I am still lacking in experience even though we are the same age.  For this year, my target is just to get my ranking up as high as I can.

“I am still not used to the media attention I’m starting to get.  I still feel shy in front of the camera and I don’t feel that I am a good speaker.  I’m starting to get a taste for victory but I’m not counting on a Korea Open Premier Super Series title or the prize money just yet.  I came to this tournament just hoping to do well.”

Immediately after Lee Chong Wei’s victory, Cheng Shu was denied the repeat New Year success that had already come to her partner when she and Zhao Yunlei once again fell to Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang.  This time, the newer pairing dominated the first game 21-7 before coming from behind to take the second 21-17, Cheng and Zhao unable to find the form that saw them take the Asian Games gold, as well as their only ever win over Wang and Yu.

Men’s doubles was the only discipline where a 2010 Korea Open winner did not win gold.  Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae were forced to start 2011 with silver as they suffered their worst ever defeat at the hands of Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen since their first meeting, five years ago yesterday at the 2006 Swiss Open.

“We were leading after the first three rallies in both games so they were under pressure and had to play from the defensive angle and we could attack, which is our style of play,” explained Mathias Boe at the post-match press conference.  “That is what made it for us today.

“Of course if you compare a tournament like this to tennis, badminton still has a long way to go but it is getting better.  The prize money of course – if you ask most of the players – can always go higher but I think when Carsten and I are old men, the people sitting on these chairs will be making more than we do so I think we are getting there.”

Asked what they thought of Taipei after winning here in 2008 and then again today, Boe replied simply “We love Taipei!”

“Because this is the first tournament of 2011, we haven’t had the preparation training,” explained Lee Yong Dae, “but there are lots of tournaments to go so we will prepare more, especially once the Olympic qualifying period begins.”

“The first time we played Boe and Mogensen, the Danes didn’t give 100%,” said Jung Jae Sung.  “This time, we made errors at crucial points in the match and we tried to come back but they played it such that there were no empty spots to aim for in the court so we couldn’t find a way to win.”

“We still have two weeks left before the Korea Open because we aren’t participating in the Malaysia Open,” said Lee Yong Dae.  “We feel that a lack of training may be what cost us the title here so we are going to focus on preparing for Korea – where the prize money is certainly something to shoot for – and hopefully we can perform well there.”

For complete results from the BWF Super Series Finals, CLICK HERE

Come stay with us for the Super Series Finals at the Chateau de Chine.  Located at the heart of Sinjhuang City, Chateau de Chine Hotel is created to convey the vibrant and everlasting sense of traditional beauty. Inspired by the Art Nouveau style, Chateau de Chine hotel infuses the finest elegance of French design with an authentic touch of oriental aesthetics.   If you are looking for quality accommodation during the event or anytime you are visiting Taipei, check out their website here.

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 @