CHINA OPEN 2016 Finals – 1st-time winners help to deny hosts a title

Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee were lucky in their third Superseries final and P. V. Sindhu in her third as China was let without a single title from […]

Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee were lucky in their third final and P. V. Sindhu in her third as China was let without a single title from any of their four finalists at the 2016 .

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Raphael Sachetat / Badmintonphoto (live)

China may not have achieved a title sweep at the China Open in the Superseries era – like it has done at other major badminton events – but it has certainly had its share of home success.  In the nine Superseries editions, the hosts have won four titles on three occasions and three titles on another four, and of course China swept the titles three times when it was part of the old Grand Prix circuit.

There was some youth involved on finals day for the 2016 edition but China still put forward four finalists, including two reigning Olympic gold medallists.  However, it was the visiting finalists who rose to the occasion and when the dust cleared on Sunday, it turned out that all of the titles would be leaving the Middle Kingdom.

First in 25 years

The lynchpin for denying China a title at the China Open is the women’s doubles.  Chinese pairs have won this title every single year since 1991, when Korean greats Chung Myung Hee and Hwang Hye Young did it.

Today, Korea’s Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee (pictured top) were the first pair from their country to reach a women’s doubles final at the China Open since 1996 and they converted that ending of a 20-year gap into ending the 25-year reign of Chinese pairs.

The local challenge to the world #6 Koreans came from the least experienced of the finalists.  Huang Dongping and Li Yinhui (pictured right) have only played five tournaments together and it just turns out that on four of those occasions, they have had to face Chang and Lee.  The last time they met in the final was at last autumn’s Thailand Open and that was also the last time they beat the Koreans, who prevailed at the recent Superseries events in Denmark and France.

Chang and Lee, who had already been runners-up on their first two appearances in the finals of Superseries tournaments, got off to an ominous start as they were completely dominated by the young Chinese players.  They soon managed to turn things around, however, and they kept the lead throughout the second game and for the bottom half of the decider.

Second time lucky for Sindhu

Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (pictured) was denied in her only previous Superseries final, beaten by Li Xuerui at the 2015 Denmark Open.  In Fuzhou, Sindhu faced one of the few players on the tour taller than herself but more importantly, Sun Yu already had a Superseries title to her name, on top of the home court advantage.

The highlight of 2016 for Sindhu may have been her Olympic silver medal in Rio but for Sun, runner-up finishes have been the order of the year.  She had already been relegated to silver at three Superseries events this year, as well as two Grand Prix Golds.

Unfortunately for her, the China Open would be no exception.  Sun may have found a way to take the second game, but the other two were all about her Indian opponent and she was the one celebrating after their 69 minutes on court.

First for Europe

Jan Jorgensen’s straight-game win over reigning Olympic and World Champion Chen Long (pictured bottom) was not his first Superseries title but not only was it his first at the China Open, but it was the first singles triumph by a European in the 30-year history of the event.  The win was only Jorgensen’s second over Chen, the other one just happening to have been on the Dane’s way to his previous Superseries Premier title, in Indonesia in 2014.

More success for Indonesian pairs

Before the China Open, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (pictured right) were the only men’s doubles pair, apart from Yoo Yeon Seong and the now retired Lee Yong Dae, to have won two Superseries titles in 2016.  But the Indonesians followed up the great form they’d shown all week to win a very close match against Boe/Mogensen to stand alone as the only three-time winners this year.

In the last match of the day, three Olympic mixed doubles gold medallists took to the court.  Zhang Nan was the three-time defending champion in this event but the London gold medallist was in only his second outing with promising 19-year-old Li Yinhui (pictured below).

For Li, it was only her second Superseries final because she had been in another earlier in the afternoon but unfortunately, this one didn’t go much better.  Rio gold medallists Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir won this title three years ago and they sensed their opportunity with the new pairing opposite them and duly took the first game easily.

Zhang and Li opened up a lead late in the second, as Ahmad was continually unable to play the shuttle past Li at the front of the court, but with some good serving and very sharp play, the Olympic champions leapfrogged ahead of the unseeded Chinese and earned match point at 20-19.  Li stepped up her game, though, and the home favourites tied it up at a game apiece.

In the deciding game, the Indonesians had more success in pushing their shots down the sides but late in the game, they benefited from several Chinese errors.  The last of these came when Li Yinhui rushed a serve but let the shuttle strike her torso as she attempted to get out of the way and let it drop short.

It was only the second time this year that China had been left without a title at a Superseries event.  Next up, though, is the Hong Kong Open, the event where China has swept the titles twice.  All of the China Open finalists will be in attendance and P. V. Sindhu and Boe/Mogensen in particular, will be looking for more good performances as this will be their last chance to earn a spot in the Superseries Finals in Dubai.

Final results
WD:  Chang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR) [6] beat Huang Dongping / Li Yinhui (CHN)  13-21, 21-14, 21-17
WS:  Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (IND) [7] beat Sun Yu (CHN) [8]  21-11, 17-21, 21-11
MD:  Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) [7] beat Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) [4]  21-18, 22-20
MS:  Jan O Jorgensen (DEN) [4] beat Chen Long (CHN) [2]  22-20, 21-13
XD:  Tontowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir (INA) [2] beat Zhang Nan / Li Yinhui (CHN)  21-13, 22-24, 21-16

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 @