The performances of a few unheralded Mixed Doubles pairs took centrestage in the last European leg of the MetLife BWF World Superseries circuit.
In doing so, they threw the category wide open, in a season whose first half was dominated by established pairs.
A vivid illustration of this was seen at the DANISA Denmark Open, where Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet (featured image), just over a year into their partnership, went on to win their first Superseries crown, beating Olympic champions Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Indonesia) in the semi-finals and Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen (China) in the final.
Both the Denmark Open, and the Yonex French Open that followed, saw several interesting results of underdogs getting the better of favoured pairs. World No.2 Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong, finalists at all of their first six tournaments this year, crashed out in the second round in Odense, to France’s Ronan Labar/Audrey Fontaine.
England’s Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock, bronze medallists at the TOTAL BWF World Championships, fell in the first round in Denmark, following a first-round exit at the Daihatsu Yonex Japan Open.
It was the turn instead of upcoming pairs like Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai and England’s Ben Lane/Jessica Pugh to steal the limelight. With victories over No.6 seeds Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping (China) and Niclas Nohr/Sara Thygesen (Denmark), Goh/Lai made their first Superseries semi-finals, which helped them climb into 18th place on the Destination Dubai Rankings.
In Paris, Lane/Pugh showed they could be the pair to follow in the footsteps of the Adcocks, as the 20-year-olds tripped Denmark Open champions Tang/Tse in the second round before going down to top seeds Zheng/Chen in three hard-fought games. Lane/Pugh’s inspired show catapulted them into 33rd spot on the Destination Dubai Rankings, up 12 places from 45th.
Another interesting performance was that of the new combination Mathias Christiansen/Christinna Pedersen. The Danes captured the hearts of the Parisian crowd with their never-say-die spirit, fighting back from the brink against Thailand’s Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Puttita Supajirakul in the quarter-finals and handing top seeds Zheng/Chen a hard fight in their semi-final.
These performances have resulted in significant movement in the Destination Dubai Rankings. Tang/Tse’s Denmark Open triumph saw them jump ten spots into No.8, while China’s Zhang Nan/Li Yinhui, semi-finalists in Paris, also made a big leap of 11 spots into tenth place.
Zhang/Li are the fourth Chinese pair in the top ten – with the top spot occupied by Zheng/Chen, runners-up in both Denmark and France. In second spot are Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong, who have had a rather disappointing second half of the season.
Japan Open winners Wang Hilyu/Huang Dongping are at No.5, just ahead of the Adcocks.
Indonesia’s Ahmad/Natsir added another trophy in Paris to their extensive cabinet; the victory saw them climb three spots into No.3, ahead of compatriots Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto. In seventh place are Malaysia’s Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing, quarter-finalists in France, while in ninth are Japan’s Kenta Kazuno/Ayane Kurihara, who haven’t crossed the second round since the Yonex-Sunrise India Open.
Labar/Fontaine and Christiansen/Pedersen made significant gains – the former by 12 places into 39th and the latter by 28 places into 45th.
Two events are left in the 12-leg circuit – the TAHOE China Open and the Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open – for aspirants to ensure their qualification to the Dubai World Superseries Finals. The 13-17 December 2017 extravaganza in the desert city will take place in Hamdan Sports Complex.