ASIAN CHAMPS 2015 Finals – Ratchanok back on top

Ratchanok Intanon came back from the precipice to add the Dong Feng Citroen Badminton Asia Championship to her long list of titles, claiming her first tournament victory since the 2013 […]

Ratchanok Intanon came back from the precipice to add the Dong Feng Citroen Badminton Asia Championship to her long list of titles, claiming her first tournament victory since the 2013 World Championships.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: China Foto Press (live)

Not only did Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon (pictured) score her first victory over Li Xuerui since Guangdong in 2013 but today at the Dong Feng Citroen was the first time since then that she has topped a podium.  Intanon thus became the first Thai to become Asian Champion in singles.  Even as a junior, she won all three of her World Junior titles without becoming Asian Junior Champion once, something Li Xuerui did in 2008, before taking the senior continental title twice.

The final did have quite the comeback from 12-19 down that Ratchanok executed in the 2013 Worlds, much less the 10-point run she made in the India Open semi-final against Marin this year.  But she did all she needed to do when it counted today and this time she didn’t even take the opening game.  Instead, she had to fight off two match points in the second just to stay in it.

By the deciding game, everything was going Ratchanok’s way.  While this was the Thai’s first match of the week to pass the hour mark, the 76-minute final was just a tad longer than Li Xuerui (pictured) had spent on court in the semi-final, something that couldn’t help but take its toll in the decider.

Korea’s first for 2015!

After Korea won most of the top men’s doubles titles in 2014, few expected we could get through the first four Superseries events of the year, as well as five Grand Prix Golds, without a doubles title of any kind.  In fact, independent player Lee Hyun Il’s singles title at the Malaysia Grand Prix Gold was the only title of the year for Korea…until today.

Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured) weren’t exactly ending a title drought like Ratchanok Intanon’s.  Even getting back the edge in their rivalry with Malaysia Open champions Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan was not quite the accomplishment that the Thai youngster achieved today.  Still, they had been beaten in two huge finals – including the Asian Games at home – since the Indonesians lost two straight finals in the Koreans’ run of three Superseries titles last summer.

Lee and Yoo even had to save two match points to keep their head above water by winning the second game.  Unlike in the women’s singles final, though, the deciding game in men’s doubles was just as close.  After they let the Indonesians surge ahead late in the third game, a five-point run ensured that Yoo Yeon Seong would retain his Asian title, this one being the third for both players, each of whom had won twice previously with two different partners.

Tontowi takes first

The first match of the day provided Tontowi Ahmad with his first Asian title, while Liliyana Natsir (pictured) succeeded nine years after her only previous victory.  The Indonesians denied Hong Kong’s Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah in straight games.

Victory in mixed doubles is even more important with the Sudirman Cup coming up soon.  With only very inexperienced singles players, Indonesia will be relying more than ever on their doubles prowess to make a good showing at the World Mixed Team Badminton Championships.

Two for the home team

Even with the loss by Li Xuerui, Team China knew it would be leaving Wuhan with two titles.  Men’s singles even had an all-Chinese semi-final round, while the only non-Chinese pair left in the women’s doubles semi-final lost to the two-time champions Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang.

Wang and Yu couldn’t put it together though for a third title, which would have been the fourth for each player.  Ma Jin, who last won this title in 2009 with Wang, found success with new BWF Athletes’ Commission member Tang Yuanting (pictured).  They won in straight games.

Unlike with his female compatriots, in Tian Houwei’s case, being granted a walkover in the semi-finals did not give him the edge he needed in the final.  After all, he was playing the three-time defending champion and all-around legend Lin Dan (pictured bottom).  The two team-mates spent fifty minutes on court but Lin took the second game ruthlessly to earn his fourth Asian title.

After two straight weeks of top-flight badminton –between the China Masters and Asian Championships – China takes only a brief break from hosting duties before the badminton world’s best are back for the 14th edition of the Sudirman Cup, which kicks off in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, on May 10th.

Final results
XD: Tontowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir (INA) [2] beat Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah (HKG)  21-16, 21-15
WS: Ratchanok Intanon (THA) [7] beat Li Xuerui (CHN) [1]  20-22, 23-21, 21-12
WD: Ma Jin / Tang Yuanting (CHN) beat Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) [4]  21-12, 21-12
MS: Lin Dan (CHN) [2] beat Tian Houwei (CHN)  21-19, 21-8
MD: Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) [1] beat Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) [6]  18-21, 24-22, 21-19

Click here for complete results

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 @