WORLDS 2017 Finals – 20 & 40-year waits end

Viktor Axelsen may be the first Dane in 20 years to be crowned men’s singles World Champion but Nozomi Okuhara won her nation’s first world title in 40! By Don […]

Viktor Axelsen may be the first Dane in 20 years to be crowned men’s singles World Champion but Nozomi Okuhara won her nation’s first world title in 40!

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live from Glasgow)

Not since the inaugural were played over on the other side of Denmark, in Sweden, had a world title gone to a Japanese player.  But Nozomi Okuhara ended that 40-year wait with a brilliant victory over Olympic silver medallist Pusarla Venkata Sindhu.

As long as the ‘wait’ was for Japanese badminton fans, and players, though, what seemed like an eternity on Sunday night was the 110 gruelling minutes of top class badminton that Sindhu and Okuhara played on court.  Sindhu was behind one game and let slip a couple of promising leads in the second game before she finally evened the score with a third incredible backhand defensive shot.

The lead see-sawed in the deciding game, with both players bent over in exhaustion between points but giving their all in each rally.  Okuhara never seemed to let up on her blistering court coverage and precision net play and the last game finally went her way 22-20.

Viktor Axelsen became the first Dane – indeed the first European and the first non-Asian – to win the World Championship men’s singles title since Peter Rasmussen did it 20 years ago, also in Glasgow.  The 23-year-old also joined Ng Ka Long – whom he beat on Thursday – as the only active players with winning records over the great Lin Dan.

Axelsen dealt Lin his first defeat in a World Championship final since 2005, when Taufik Hidayat got the better of the Chinese legend in both players’ first world final.  That was also the last time the world title went to a player from outside of China.  Axelsen saved one game point in the opening game before edging ahead to win it 22-20 and he then lead for almost the entire second game.

The women’s doubles title went to the 2015 World Junior Champions.  Now, of course, Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan are well established in the top ranks of the senior tour and had already won the Superseries Finals before entering their twenties.  On Sunday, they weathered a strong second game performance by Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota to build up an unassailable lead in the decider and take their first World Championship title in their first time participating in the event.

No fewer than 11 previous World Junior Champions in girls’ doubles had already gone on to win world titles, in all 3 women’s disciplines, but Chen and Jia are the first pair ever to title in their winning junior combination in any of the doubles disciplines.  Just in the past ten years, 2006 champions Ma Jin and Wang Xiaoli won bronze at the Worlds in 2009 and silver in 2010, but never gold, and 2011-12 World Junior Champions Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan won bronze at the Worlds in 2014.

In men’s doubles, it was Zhang Nan who won a new title in a new partnership.  Already winner of 3 world titles in mixed doubles, Zhang brought Liu Cheng along for the ride to snatch the 2017 title away from covetous two-time champion Mohammad Ahsan.  Ahsan too showed up with a new partner but he and Rian Agung Saputro couldn’t convert their surprise run to the finals into a championship as they lost in straight games.

Mixed doubles featured three games that weren’t particularly close.  The decider in particular began dismally for world #1 Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen.  The Chinese pair managed to whittle the deficit down from an embarrassing 12-1 to trail just 15-20 before Olympic gold medallists Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir put on the finishing touch.  It was Natsir’s fourth career World Championship title and Ahmad’s second.

Final results
WD:  Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) [4] beat Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) [9]  21-18, 17-21, 21-15
WS:  Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) [7] beat Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (IND) [4]  21-19, 20-22, 22-20
MS:  Viktor Axelsen (DEN) [3] beat Lin Dan (CHN) [7]  22-20, 21-16
MD:  Liu Cheng / Zhang Nan (CHN) [8] beat Mohammad Ahsan / Rian Agung Saputro (INA)  21-10, 21-17
XD:  Tontowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir (INA) [3] beat Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN) [1]  15-21, 21-16, 21-15

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 @