GERMAN OPEN 2017 – 3 in a row for Zhang/Li

Li Yinhui picked up her last title as a teenager as she and Zhang Nan won their third straight Grand Prix Gold crown. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Sven Heise / […]

Li Yinhui picked up her last title as a teenager as she and Zhang Nan won their third straight Gold crown.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Sven Heise / Badmintonphoto (live)

China’s Li Yinhui has had both a great start to 2017 and a fine finish to her teenage years.  Li, who will turn 20 next weekend just before the All England final, picked up her second Grand Prix Gold title of the year with mixed doubles partner Zhang Nan (pictured), beating their world #6 compatriots Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong in straight games.

Actually, the success for the new pair started late last year.  Li was coming off three Superseries finals in two weeks and she and Zhang beat the Olympic silver medallists en route to the Macau Open title.  On Sunday in Mulheim, Li and Zhang followed up a very tight opening game by dominating the second to take the title.

In addition to appearing in her fourth straight final with Zhang Nan, Li also has a high-performing women’s doubles partnership with Huang Dongping.  Together, they won the Thailand Open title as a brand new pair in 2015 and then after over a year apart, they were back last fall and have now been at least to the semi-final stage in 6 straight Superseries and Grand Prix Gold outings.

Three of those 6, including Sunday in Germany, involved trips to the finals.  Like in the last two Superseries events last year, however, Li and Huang were forced to settle for silver.  After looking very confident in their first game against Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (pictured), they succumbed to the Japanese pair’s punishing consistency.

In the deciding game, the Japan pair moved into a commanding lead at the beginning and forced the Chinese to play catch-up.  Huang and Li did erase 5 match points in a row but Fukushima and Hirota actually had 10 to play and finished it off on the 6th.  Both pairs should move into the world’s top 20 when the new rankings come out during the All England next week.

Japan’s women’s doubles win came in the only match on Sunday that did not feature compatriots on each side of the net.  Japan did pick up two titles but Akane Yamaguchi won hers by default, as Olympic champion Carolina Marin was unable to play the final.

In the men’s doubles, Kim Astrup / Anders Skaarup Rasmussen denied their compatriots Mads Conrad-Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding a fourth career title on German soil.  The two Madses won the Bitburger Open in 2013 and then both it and the in 2015.  In fact, the last time they lost to their younger compatriots in international play was at the intervening Bitburger in 2014.

This time, Astrup and Rasmussen again got the upper hand and won in straight games and this should push them into the top ten in the world.

Taiwan youngster Wang Tzu Wei was unable to follow up his big win over Olympic champion Chen Long.  In his first ever Grand Prix Gold final, the 22-year-old – who had already been in four Grand Prix finals and who won his first such title when he was 19 – was unable to beat his experienced team-mate Chou Tien Chen (pictured).

In the first game, Chou found great success smashing at Wang’s torso but the younger player still played a very effective game of catch-up.  In the second, Wang couldn’t create the opportunities and Chou was able to control the game more completely.

Chou thus took his fifth career Grand Prix Gold title and will be in good spirits as he heads to the All England, where he will be hoping to win his first Superseries title since the French Open in 2014.  Wang Tzu Wei, meanwhile, will have to be content with a runner-up finish, which should help him inch ever closer to breaking into the world’s top 20 for the first time in his career.

Final results:
WD:  Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) beat Huang Dongping / Li Yinhui (CHN) [5]  15-21, 21-17, 21-15
MS:  Chou Tien Chen (TPE) [6] beat Wang Tzu Wei (TPE) [14]  21-16, 21-14
MD:  Kim Astrup / Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (DEN) [4] beat Mads Conrad-Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding (DEN) [2]  21-17, 21-13
WS:  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) [2] beat Carolina Marin (ESP) [1] [walkover]
XD:  Zhang Nan / Li Yinhui (CHN) [8] beat Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) [1]  22-20, 21-11

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 @