China duly accomplished a historic capture of all five titles at the Yonex Denmark Open this evening, stoutly withstanding the best that Indonesia, Japan and Korea offered as opposition.
Already assured of the Women’s Singles crown – with two of their finest battling for the coveted championship – the perennial powerhouse dismantled their rivals from other Asian nations; every match sealed in straight games..
It was an emphatic performance that places the Chinese in the record books as the only country other than the hosts to sweep this esteemed tournament which is part of the MetLife BWF World Superseries tour. Begun in 1936, the Denmark Open featured all Danish winners in its first year and again in 1955. China came close to emulating that feat in 2005, 2008 and last year, taking four titles on each occasion.
This time, they were not to be denied and even the Korean machinery of Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong in Men’s Doubles could not resist the force as China’s titans powered through Odense Sports Park, taking no prisoners. Perhaps it was the final salvos – the surrender of Lee/Yoo who had thwarted them last season on the same court and who were gunning for their fourth successive World Superseries triumph – that would have pleased the all-conquering unit most.
It took the wily veteran Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan – better known for his Mixed Doubles prowess – to out-manoeuvre the usually resolute Koreans. For Fu, who has stood atop many podiums in his glittering career, it was a first in Denmark; his third time lucky having failed in two previous finals with two different partners.
“I’m more experienced and he’s young and energetic so we complement each other well,” he said, following the 21-13 25-23 victory.
Though the pair undoubtedly played well, their rivals committed several uncharacteristic errors and at times seemed out of sync with each other’s intentions and movements. A distinct feature of China’s strategy was to work the shuttle around to find gaps in Korea’s defence. Many of the winners’ points came from pushes into open spaces, leaving Lee and Yoo staring at each other quizzically.
It was surprising how easily Fu/Zhang (featured image; left) wrapped up the first game but the second was a gritty tussle with the lead traded back and forth until Korea boasted a handy 17-14 advantage. A position from which the top seeds would usually plough ahead, they could not find that extra gear to grab the vital four points. Instead, Fu/Zhang kept attacking and were rewarded as they first tied the score and then fought off four game points. On their first time of asking, China took the trophy, thanks to a smash from Zhang Nan.
“We played a magnificent match and I’m very pleased to beat Korea and be a part of this Chinese team,” said the Olympic Mixed Doubles gold medallist, who has partnered Fu from January this year.
In Men’s Singles, another chapter in the growing rivalry between Chen Long and Son Wan Ho unfolded in two engrossing games which could have gone either way. Son, who beat the world No.2 in the team tournament at last month’s Asian Games, was up 17-15 in the first game and 20-17 in the second, only to see Chen claw back with some risky and exciting shots. The 21-19 24-22 result in Chen’s favour sealed his title defence as he kept the crown he won a year ago.
“This was not an easy win but I prepared well and took some risks in the second game,” noted Chen Long, who was planning a steak dinner to celebrate.
His vanquished Korean rival was satisfied with his own performance, stating he is learning new tactics and is excited to be back in contention at top tournaments. Son is looking forward to finishing the season strongly and competing at the year-end BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals.
WOMEN’S SINGLES: There was no stopping Li Xuerui (featured image; right) this year as she lifted yet another trophy to prevent her compatriot Wang Yihan repeating as Women’s Singles champion. The 21-17 22-20 verdict capped a glorious campaign for the world No.1 who also heads the BWF Destination Dubai Rankings but it was not without drama. Leading 16-8 in the opening game, Li watched as Wang reeled off nine unanswered points to grab a 17-16 advantage but the 2013 champion could not maintain her momentum and her chance slipped away. The second game was equally competitive but there was always a sense that Li had enough in her vast arsenal to get the job done – and that she did; punching the air and shouting in delight on match point.
“I’ve reached the final of every tournament I played this year but I lost in the World Championships and the Asian Games so I needed a trophy to cheer me up. I hope to continue winning more this season because I want to play in Dubai,” said the 23-year-old who’s also looking forward to sight-seeing in the world-renowned city.
WOMEN’S DOUBLES: As they so often do, Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang combined for yet another comprehensive Women’s Doubles success. Their powerful partnership comfortably defeated the steady Japanese pair of Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, 21-14 21-14.
The effort required to win one point off the dominant Chinese – furthermore 21 or more – has proven just too much for many and it was again in today’s first final. The win secured the duo’s second Superseries Premier title this year, to match the Yonex All England championship they took home in March.
“We love Denmark, especially the way we are treated here. Fans know a lot about badminton and they cheer for all the players regardless of country,” noted a smiling Yu.
The Japanese were pleased to have improved their performance versus their highly-regarded opponents but conceded they need another 12-18 months before they can seriously challenge the Chinese champions.
MIXED DOUBLES: They may not have called it “revenge” but Xu Chen and Ma Jin exacted some satisfaction for their Asian Games loss to Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir, beating the Indonesians 22-20 21-15 to take Mixed Doubles honours. An inspired performance by Xu Chen, often seizing control at net, paved the way for China’s second win of the day. Xu said they prepared well and considered what to do in different match situations they might encounter. His partner disclosed that they train three to five hours daily, six days a week, and respect and admire the other top pairs whom they battle on the World Superseries circuit.