Indonesia and China shared the honours in the Li-Ning Singapore Open 2013 today, winning three and two finals respectively.
Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir started the day well for Indonesia copping the Mixed Doubles, following which Tommy Sugiarto (BWF home page) took the Men’s Singles title – his first Superseries victory. Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan fashioned a perfect ending for Indonesia taking home the Men’s Doubles crown.
In between Indonesia’s successes, China seized the Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles championships. The singles event was an all-China encounter between Li Xuerui (1) and Wang Yihan (4). The rivalry between Li and Wang (centre below) has swung between extremes. Wang, Li’s senior by three years, won their first four clashes but Li dominated the last year, winning their finals at the All England and the Olympics.
Wang won her first match against Li in over a year at the Badminton Asia Championships in April 2013, but Li was still favoured to take the Singapore final. Wang had struggled en route to today, being stretched the distance in three of her four matches while Li had cruised throughout.
However, it was Wang who asserted her early dominance and, as the match progressed, wrested full control. Her whippy smashes breached Li’s defence frequently while her court coverage and defence were exceptional. The fourth seed returned even sure-shot winners from the Olympic champion which seemed to deflate Li. Wang’s attacking game, interspersed with a few heavily sliced drop shots, kept her compatriot guessing and Wang comfortably closed out the match 21-18 21-12.
The Men’s Singles final was a study in contrasts: Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto – playing his first Superseries final – backs his rallying abilities, while his opponent, Boonsak Ponsana (Thailand) is more elegant and deceptive, and looks for quick points. Ponsana, at 31, is five years Sugiarto’s senior, and the difference in fitness eventually determined the outcome. Ponsana’s trickery helped him establish an early lead but Sugiarto began to stretch the rallies, saving three game points before Ponsana clinched the first game 22-20.
The Thai decided to let go of the second game to recover his breath for the third which was again keenly contested. Scores stayed close until midway but Sugiarto maintained his high pace towards the later stages, even as Ponsana made a number of errors. The Indonesian wrapped up the match 20-22 21-5 21-17.
* Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan’s dream run in Men’s Doubles continued as they won their second straight Superseries, following victory in last Sunday’s Djarum Indonesia Open. The Indonesians (right) repeated their heroics over top seeds Lee Yong Dae/Ko Sung Hyun (Korea), with a 21-15 21-18 verdict.
* Olympic champions Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei overcame dogged resistance from Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi to clinch the Women’s Doubles title, 21-19 21-16. The Japanese employed their stout defensive game to hold off the Chinese charge in the first game, but Tian and Zhao’s greater all-round skills paid dividends (presentation: centre below).
* Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir (Indonesia) won their third Superseries for 2013, cruising past Yoo Yeon Seong/Eom Hye Won (Korea) 21-12 21-12 in Mixed Doubles. This was the first clash between the two pairs (presentation: centre below).
Text by Dev Sukumar | Badmintonphoto & Edwin Leung