ALL ENGLAND 2016 Finals – 6th title for Lin Dan!

The Yonex All England 2016’s finals started off under the word domination as winners elected not to be lenient on their opponents. Lin Dan first opened the day, leaving nothing […]

The Yonex 2016’s finals started off under the word domination as winners elected not to be lenient on their opponents. Lin Dan first opened the day, leaving nothing to his compatriot Tian Houwei, while on his quest for his 6th title here in Birmingham, then Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi also went hard on China’s Yu Yang and Tang Yuanting, grabbing their first All England title in straight games, as did birthday girl Nozomi Okuhara.

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

Badminton legend Lin Dan offered no leftovers to his younger team-mate Tian Houwei, after he heartlessly defeated him a severe score of 21-9 21-10.  The Chinese superstar and born showman delivered some incredible points, proving his repertoire of shots that might have been too much too handle for the less experienced Tian Houwei, who was playing in only his second career final.  Both knowing each other’s game perfectly, Lin Dan and Tian Houwei offered some very tactical rallies, where only Lin Dan seemed to have an answer for.

“Both of us were physically tired, so I was quite shocked at how the thing went today but overall I am quite proud of what I achieved so far,” said Lin Dan after his victory.

First nicknamed “Super Dan” by Badzine’s founder back in 2000, the former world number one, added a sixth All England title, though having now his eye fully focused now into marking a bit more history, at the next Rio Olympic Games.

Russia on top

Russians certainly created the upset of the tournament.  Having defeated notorious men’s doubles pairs along the way, Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov will certainly remember this week for a very long time. After world #1 Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong, it was the turn of Japan’s best pair of Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa to bite the dust.

After a first game won by a small margin 23-21, the Japanese pair found no other solution to counter attack Ivanov’s fantastic attacking game and had to concede the other two games 8-21, 16-21. Unable to believe their achievement, the Russian pair remained a long time on court, hugging each other.  To mark a bit more this incredible result, they followed it up with  a Haka-style dance that created a buzz over the Internet in just a few minutes.


Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi didn’t stop their fantastic run in Birmingham but instead went on another rampage as they gave no chance to their opponents of the day, Tang Yuanting and Yu Yang. The Japanese duo, who struggled in 2015 and were forced to give up their world number one spot, are making a fantastic return, right on time before the Olympics.

Powerful and delicate at the same time, the two women showed some great consistency during the whole match, eventually concluding this week with a 21-10, 21-12 victory and a regained confidence for the rest of the Olympic qualification period.

“We didn’t do well in 2015, so having this result today is giving us much more courage and confidence since the Olympics are just around the corner,” said Ayaka Takahashi after her victory.

Indonesia’s inheritors

Debby Susanto and Praveen Jordan finally stamped their new status as Indonesia’s loyal mixed doubles inheritors. The constantly improving pair showed perfection from the start as they pulled out a very efficient aggressive game to block the experienced Danish pair of Christinna Pedersen and Joachim Fischer Nielsen.

“We played as if it were a first round match, so we had no pressure on our shoulders,” said Debby Susanto at the end of her match.

The large Indonesian crowd did spice up the match, while their two contenders displayed a very aggressive game, lending some high intensity to the contest.  Their choice of tactics was rewarded, as the up-and-coming pair, sealed their fate with a 21-12, 21-17 victory.

“We are so proud to have won this match, the crowd really made us feel at home, but now it’s time to think about the next tournaments and try to win those as well,” added Debby Susanto.

Queen Okuhara

The young Japanese marvel Nozomi Okuhara showed to the world, once more, that she is and remains the player to watch out during this Olympic year. Nozomi Okuhara ran and kept running for an hour and thirty nine minutes, withstanding Wang Shixian’s deceptive play. A rubber game was needed to decide between the two and became tragic with a mix of great fatigue, uncertainty and – for Wang Shixian – a red card being given to her at 17-18 in the decider for waiting too long to get back in play after she was first warned with a yellow card.

“I played her in Malaysia and it lasted an hour and fifty minutes so I knew and came prepared to fight for that match,” said Nozomi Okuhara.

The extremely tense end of match eventually saw Okuhara prevail, after a tremendous battle that ended 21-11, 16-21, 21-19.

“Since I won the Superseries Finals, I have really gained confidence and it’s making me even happier than it worked out well here too!” added Nozomi, who was given a birthday cake after her win, as the youngster happened to win the All England title on her 21st birthday, offering herself one of the nicest presents imaginable. She thus becomes the first Japanese winner in the women’s singles at the All England since Hiroe Yuki in 1977.

Final results
MS: Lin Dan (CHN) [5] beat Tian Houwei (CHN) [8]  21-9, 21-10
WD: Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [3] beat Tang Yuanting / Yu Yang (CHN) [6]  21-10, 21-12
XD: Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto [8] beat Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) [5]  21-12, 21-17
WS: Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) [8]   beat Wang Shixian [7]    21-11, 16-21, 21-19
MD: Vladimir Ivanov / Ivan Sozonov (RUS) beat Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa (JPN) [6]  21-23, 21-18, 21-16

Click here for complete final results

About Tarek Hafi