THAILAND OPEN 2017 Finals – World Junior Champs title on first try

Reigning World Junior Champions He Jiting and Du Yue won the mixed doubles title at the Thailand Open, finding success in their first appearance in a Grand Prix Gold final. […]

Reigning World Junior Champions He Jiting and Du Yue won the mixed doubles title at the , finding success in their first appearance in a Gold final.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Just when you thought China couldn’t be more dominant in mixed doubles badminton, something like this happens.  China has 3 pairs in the world’s top 5, and coming into this Thailand Open, all four Superseries events, the Asian Championships, and 3 of 6 Grand Prix Gold events had all gone to one of China’s top 4 mixed doubles pairs.  Then on Sunday in Bangkok, reigning World Junior Champions He Jiting and Du Yue (pictured) claimed the title in their first ever Grand Prix Gold final.

Two years ago, He and Du were summarily dismissed from the World Junior Championship final by Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen.  Now Zheng and Chen are world #1 and He and Du have signalled their arrival in the senior ranks with a convincing win over Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai (pictured).

He might have one more World Junior title than his partner but Du Yue has had more international exposure, having played a couple of Superseries events this year, including the All England with former world #1 Xu Chen.  She was quick onto controlling the net early in the opening game but once Lai found her rhythm for Malaysia, the Chinese began to depend heavily on the brilliant court coverage and high-flying smashes of He Jiting at the back of the court.

The Malaysians took the second game to force a decider but the third game was all China.  He and Du took it 21-12 to become the fifth Chinese pair to take a major mixed title in 2017.  China couldn’t hope for a better year to follow the retirement in 2016 of three of their four mixed doubles Rio Olympians.

Rahayu youngest winner

Born just a few months after the mixed doubles winners, Indonesia’s Apriyani Rahayu had the benefit of the experience of her partner and past champion Greysia Polii (pictured).  In fact, the 2013 Thailand Open title was officially Polii’s first Grand Prix Gold win, although she had titled at the 2006 Philippine Open, a year before the new tournament category was created.

Forget a first ever Grand Prix Gold final, for Polii and Rahayu, the 2017 Thailand Open was their first individual tournament as a pair.  They neutralized the challenge from first-time finalists Chayanit Chaladchala / Phataimas Muenwong in a pair of 21-12 games.

Singapore Open champions take singles

In both singles events, it was the first title since a Singapore Open for the eventual champion.  In the all-Thai women’s singles, former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon (pictured) beat compatriot Busanan Ongbamrungphan to take her first title in over a year.

In the semi-finals, Ongbamrungphan had beaten Saina Nehwal for the first time in her career but she was unable to do the same with Intanon, who won the longest final of the day in three games.

In the men’s singles, 19-year-old Jonatan Christie was ever so close to being the first teenager ever to win a Grand Prix Gold men’s singles title.  Christie led at the interval in all three games but in the decider, it was only after blowing an 8-3 lead early in the game.

Christie’s attacking game had worked well in the opener but by the third game, he found himself forced by Sai Praneeth’s patient defense to try for more precision and he ended up making too many errors to be able to weather the narrowing score-line.

“I was just focusing on every rally and the rallies were going really tough,” said Sai Praneeth told the emcee on court after the match.  “The game was going too long and I just took my time and kept thinking and playing slowly, slowly, slowly.”

Sai Praneeth (pictured), too, was taking his first title since Singapore.  In his case, though, he had found success on the island nation just this year and made it his first win in his first career appearance in a Superseries final.  In Thailand, it was only his second Grand Prix Gold final, as he had had to settle for being the runner-up at the Syed Modi International in India earlier this year.

Indonesia had already got its second title of the afternoon when Berry Angriawan / Hardianto (pictured bottom) enjoyed a convincing victory over Germany’s Raphael Beck / Peter Kaesbauer.  The title is the Indonesians’ second of the year after they opened the 2017 season by winning the Malaysia Masters.

Most of the winners will have a week off before heading to Indonesia for the resumption of the 2017 Superseries.  The exception is He and Du, whose Superseries debut as a pair will have to wait a while yet.

Final results
WD:  Greysia Polii / Apriyani Rahayu (INA) [5] beat Chayanit Chaladchalam / Phataimas Muenwong (THA)  21-12, 21-12
WS:  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) [1] beat Busanan Ongbamrungphan (THA) [4]  21-18, 12-21, 21-16
MD:  Berry Angriawan / Hardianto (INA) [5] beat Raphael Beck / Peter Kaesbauer (GER)  21-16, 21-16
MS:  Sai Praneeth (IND) [3] beat Jonatan Christie (INA) [4]  17-21, 21-18, 21-19
XD:  He Jiting / Du Yue (CHN) beat Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Jemie Lai (MAS) [5]  21-13, 16-21, 21-12     

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 @