WORLDS 2015 SF – No home title for former champs

Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir blew two match points in their semi-final of the BWF World Badminton Championships and allowed the defending champions to set up an all-Chinese mixed doubles […]

Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir blew two match points in their semi-final of the BWF World Badminton Championships and allowed the defending champions to set up an all-Chinese mixed doubles final.

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

The signs were made for mixed doubles final at the 2015 BWF :  No past champions allowed; only current and possible future champs need apply!

In the first match on court, 2010 champion Ma Jin and Xu Chen, with whom she has twice since been runner-up, lost their first ever contest against compatriots Liu Cheng and Bao Yixin.  The same year Ma was winning her only world title to date, Bao Yixin was picking up two World Junior titles, one of them with her current mixed partner Liu Cheng.

The two younger players looked much sharper out of the blocks and they quickly won their first ever game against Xu and Ma.  The two-time runners-up blasted back to win the second but allowed Liu and Bao to get the advantage at the end of the decider.

The match ended rather oddly, with a line call going in the younger pair’s favour on match point, initiating their celebrations, only to have the parade rained on when a challenge with the Hawk-Eye system reversed the call and put Xu and Ma on the road to catching up until the #4 seeds finally finished it 21-19.

The second semi-final was the one that the crowd was really pumped for.  The first two games were thrilling, with the crowd positively electric as 2013 World Champions Tontowi Ahmad (pictured below) and Liliyana Natsir built up leads going into the homestretch of each against Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei (pictured top).

In the first, the Indonesians were able to put enough pressure, especially on Zhang Nan, that they were able to bounce back fro blowing an 18-14 lead and then one game point and win it 22-20.  In the second, though, they blew a 19-16 lead and two match points and then they failed to recover and seemed to fall apart in the third.

“Missing the last few points in the second game was really crucial because it really affected us in the third,” said Liliyana after the match.

“Our opponents were calmer and more focussed than we were,” said Tontowi Ahmad.  “Even at the crucial moments in the second game, they could control it and come back and win it and their mental strength was clear in the third game.”

“Our coaches said we have to focus in the third game and to forget about the loss in the second game,” said Natsir, “but it’s so hard because it’s a natural thing for us as humans to forget something like that.  Especially at the beginning of the third game, when we lost two or three points and then we remembered again the loss in the second game and it affected us and we could hardly do anything.”

“The rivalry is quite strong between our two pairs so I just went out and tried to do my best,” said Zhao Yunlei after the match.

“We had played them in the Indonesian Open before,” said Zhang Nan.  “This match was good all around.  The supporters were very excited about the match so I’m quite happy about the match.  I think in the third game, there was a problem with communication between our opponents so we did our best to take advantage of that.”

Zhao Yunlei now has some time to rest up before she will again attempt to disappoint the local fans by denying Asian Games gold medallists Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari a spot in the women’s doubles final.

Click here for complete semi-final 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 @