THAILAND MASTERS Finals – Ng, Ong/Teo end long title droughts

Ng Ka Long ended a title drought of 3 years at the Thailand Masters today, while Ong Yew Sin / Teo Ee Yi ended an even longer wait. By Don […]

Ng Ka Long ended a title drought of 3 years at the today, while Ong Yew Sin / Teo Ee Yi ended an even longer wait.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Jane Piyatat / Badmintonphoto (live)

Title success could not have come at a better time for Malaysians Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi (pictured).  Their last time atop a podium had been back in November 2016, when the Bitburger Open became their first Gold crown, less than a year into their partnership.

The following year, they reached another Grand Prix Gold final but in the nearly two years since, they had just one Super 500 final mixed in with a slew of first-round disappointments.  To cap it all off, the two men were cut from the national team programme by the Badminton Association of Malaysia less than a week before starting the new season at the Malaysia Masters.

As if awakened by the new chapter in their careers that had been forced upon them, Ong and Teo proceeded to reach the final 8 in the first two Super 500 events, the first of these making them the last Malaysians standing in their discipline at home at the Malaysia Masters.  Then there was Bangkok.

Ong and Teo started off the week in Thailand by shutting down Hong Kong Open winners Choi/Seo in straight games.  In the quarter-finals, they beat last year’s World Championship runners-up and Sunday, they completed the send-off for the 2017 World Champions, who are now playing separately.  Having saved two match points before beating Zhang Nan and Ou Xuanyi in three games on Thursday, they came back from a game down in the final to beat Liu Cheng and his new partner Huang Kaixiang.  Incidentally, Huang was one of the players they had to beat the last time they won a title, back in 2016.

Almost as happy to be back on top of a podium would have been Ng Ka Long (pictured left).  The Hong Kong shuttler has continued to be his team’s brightest star and it had been slightly less time since he won the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold in early 2017.

Still, Ng Ka Long lost both finals in which he appeared in 2019 and was glad to start off 2020 by beating his opponents from each of those finals before losing to Viktor Axelsen in the Malaysia Masters semi-finals.  The Thailand Masters was by no means an easy draw for the world #9 but he managed to beat both Lin Dan and Shi Yuqi in straight games and after dropping the opening game of the final to Kenta Nishimoto, he won the next two games convincingly to secure the title.

As for mixed doubles world #13 Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith, 2019 marked a big drop in the number of titles but at the same time, the European Games gold medal they won was the biggest of their career so far.  In Bangkok, they picked up another title with the same number of points on offer but against a strong global field and with a paycheque to go along with the prestige.

The English pair, whose last title at an event with prize money was at the Scottish Open in late 2018, won first against 3rd-seeded Goh/Lai of Malaysia in the semi-finals and then took down 4th-seeded Indonesians Hafiz Faizal / Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja on Sunday in the final.

The two women’s finals featured Korean challengers against top seeds.  In the case of Akane Yamaguchi (pictured), though, it was hard to consider her the favourite as she was facing 17-year-old , who had beaten the Japanese world #3 in both of their encounters this past autumn.

Once they got on court, however, Yamaguchi took command of the match in a manner befitting a top seed.  She moved An around confidently in the opening game and got a good start to the second.

Trailing 3-7 in the second game, though An Se Young (pictured bottom) got her wits about her and rattled off 8 straight points, pulling Yamaguchi this way and that way and basically showing the form that she had when she took the world by storm last season.  At 16-13, An looked set to send the match to a deciding game but Yamaguchi surged back into the lead and An was left having to thrill the crowd with her fighting spirit as she clawed her way back and saved one match point before Yamaguchi finally finished it off 22-20.

In the opening match of the afternoon, Baek Ha Na and Jung Kyung Eun took early leads in all three games but were unable to repeat their feat from the Denmark Open, the last time they met Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan (pictured) in a final.  The world #1s put together a 5-point run late in the decider and picked up their first title of the season.

In fact, it wasn’t just against Baek and Jung that the Chinese pair exacted some payback.  In the first three events of the year, they had to face Nami Matsuyama / Chiharu Shida of Japan, in the third round each time.  In Malaysia and Indonesia, the Japanese pair got the better of them, but the Chinese duo trounced them on Thursday in Bangkok and didn’t drop a game until the weekend.

Most of the players will have a late lay-off for the lunar new year, but world class badminton will be back on display in a couple of weeks as all five continents begin their men’s and women’s team championships, which will serve as qualifying for the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in May.

Final results
WD:  Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) [1] beat Baek Ha Na / Jung Kyung Eun (KOR)  17-21, 21-17, 21-15
XD:  Marcus Ellis / Lauren Smith (ENG) [6] beat Hafiz Faizal / Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (INA) [4]  21-16, 13-21, 21-16
MS:  Ng Ka Long (HKG) [3] beat Kenta Nishimoto (JPN)  16-21, 21-13, 21-12
WS:  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) [1] beat An Se Young (KOR) [3]  21-16, 22-20
MD:  Ong Yew Sin / Teo Ee Yi (MAS) beat Huang Kaixiang / Liu Cheng (CHN)  18-21, 21-17, 21-17

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 @