Shi Struggles, Momota Cruises – Day 4: HSBC BWF World Tour Finals

Shi Struggles, Momota Cruises – Day 4: HSBC BWF World Tour Finals

Home hope Shi Yuqi staged an escape act against India’s Sameer Verma to earn himself a title shot at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2018 today.

The Chinese (featured image) will face Japan’s Kento Momota in a rematch of the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2018 final.

India were within a point of having two singles finalists, but Sameer Verma couldn’t capitalise on his match point against Shi and went down in three well-fought games. Verma, against all expectations, had Shi under the gun but couldn’t pull the trigger in time; the third seed made the most of his reprieve and held on for a 12-21 22-20 21-18 victory.

It was Shi’s nervousness, combined with some sensational counter-attacking play by Verma, that saw the Indian get a hold on the proceedings. Verma was sharp, giving Shi no opportunities; to make his own task worse, the Chinese went wide of the lines on his smashes.

Shi got some of his consistency back in the second game and it was a tense, neck-and-neck affair until a couple of errors at the net by Shi gave Verma match point at 20-19. The Chinese however came up with the goods when it mattered – a down-the-line smash helped him level; a great netshot got him game point, and he converted at the first opportunity.

It was a different Shi Yuqi in the third game. The nervousness was gone; the Chinese moved slickly and caught the shuttle early at the net, and Verma’s lifts gave him enough opportunities to put away. Smashes on either flank were precise and powerful, and even though Verma stayed in the hunt, the gap kept widening.

“I’m very depressed now,” said Verma. “I won the first game and was leading in the second game but lost my concentration. I could have stayed patient and kept the shuttle in play. I was thinking of my missed opportunity at the start of the third game. I have a lot left to learn. But overall it has been a good experience and I hope I can continue with this momentum.”

Korea’s Son Wan Ho was one of the few players to beat Kento Momota this season. The Korean would’ve fancied his chances today, but Momota didn’t give him a whiff.

Son, true to style, plied his steady game. His problem was that Momota could not only match him in that department, he could also choose his moment to put his opponent under pressure. The Japanese played the waiting game when it suited him, and when he sensed his chance he exploded with jump smashes and drilled his winners close to the lines. There was little Son Wan Ho could do in the face of such opportunistic and decisive play, and the result was a foregone conclusion long before the end came at 21-14 21-12.

“Compared to our last match, I was more decisive today,” Momota said. “I was a bit more aggressive from the beginning.”

Lee/Shin Beat Matsumoto/Nagahara

Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan’s revival from an early-season slump continued as they made their fourth straight final with an electric performance against world champions Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara in Women’s Doubles.

The Japanese had beaten the Koreans in straight games in their group match, but today Lee and Shin were all over their opponents. The hard-hitting Koreans put the Japanese on the defensive, but they also mixed up their attack well, with both Lee and Shin surprising their opponents with soft shots and sharp angles.

“We lost to them in the group stage; we studied that match and changed our pattern of play,” said Shin. “We’re happy with our form. It wasn’t so good earlier in the year, but we have been training well over the last few weeks.”

The Koreans face Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, who had an early end to their semifinal against Li Yinhui/Du Yue after Li retired due to a right knee injury.

Watanabe/Endo Surprise Danes

Yuta Watanabe and Hiroyuki Endo pulled off the surprise of the evening session beating Denmark’s Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen 21-19 21-13.

It was a stubborn fightback from a large deficit in the opening game that swung the match Japan’s way. Watanabe and Endo, magnificent in defence, put up a wall that the Danes couldn’t breach. Endo had a great second game, taking on all the work at the back and following up to kill any shuttle that was marginally short. The missed first game deflated the Danes, whose level steadily went down from then on.

“They made it very difficult for us today to score our points and it was physically very tough and mentally also very tough,” said Astrup.

“We lost ourselves after 15-all in the first game. Of course it would’ve changed the match if we had taken the first game. It broke our spirit a bit. But hats off to Yuta as it’s its eighth match but he was still running around like a Duracell (battery),” added Rasmussen.

Watanabe and Endo face world champions Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (China), who beat Chinese Taipei’s Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin 18-21 21-12 21-15. Veteran Chen Hung Ling will be easing off the elite international circuit following this tournament.

桃田贤斗迎战孙完虎

桃田贤斗迎战孙完虎

世锦赛冠军桃田贤斗(日本)将会在2018汇丰世界羽联世界巡回赛总决赛的半决赛迎战韩国人孙完虎。

半决赛的抽签在小组赛比赛结束之后立刻进行,每个小组的出线选手将会迎来之后的对手,有可能是自己小组的,也有可能来自另外一个小组。

以下是具体对阵

男单

石宇奇(中国)vs维尔玛(韩国)

桃田贤斗(日本)vs孙完虎(韩国)

 

女单

辛杜(印度)vs因达农(泰国)

奥原希望(日本)vs山口茜(日本)

 

男双

李俊慧/刘雨辰(中国)vs陈宏麟/王齐麟(中华台北)

远藤大由/渡边勇大(日本)vs阿斯楚普/拉斯姆森(丹麦)

 

女双

松友美佐纪/高桥礼华(日本)vs杜宇/李茵晖(中国)

松本麻佑/永原和可那(日本)vs李绍希/申昇瓒(韩国)

 

混双

郑思维/黄雅琼(中国)vs德差波/沙西丽(泰国)

王懿律/黄东萍(中国)vs渡边勇大/东野有纱(日本)

Chou Prevails in Thriller – Day 1: HSBC BWF World Tour Finals

Chou Prevails in Thriller – Day 1: HSBC BWF World Tour Finals

Two evenly matched Men’s Singles players produced another thriller at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2018 this evening.

Four of the previous seven matches between Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen and Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting had gone three games, and it was no different today. The battle of wits swung Chou’s way after 76 minutes, helping him make his career record 4-4 against Ginting.

The top seed (featured image) had trouble closing it out from 19-14 in the third, with Ginting inching closer. Chou finally wrapped it up 17-21 21-18 21-18 to keep the slate clear for the top seeds, all of whom won their opening matches.

“He has a lot of skills, and I had to defend hard and focus on his shots,” Chou said. “The shuttle is a bit slow so maybe it was more difficult for him. I had a 19-14 lead in the third game and as he was getting close I told myself I had to attack, and I made it, and I’m happy with the way I played the match.”

Minions Recover

Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen’s 20-22 21-17 21-13 defeat to Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo showed the nature of the challenge facing the Minions’ adversaries. With the shuttle playing slow, and the players dragged into interminable rallies, the Danes played smart badminton to keep the Minions at bay for a fair length of the match.

Just when they started to have the better of the early exchanges in the third, though, Astrup and Rasmussen failed to maintain the discipline required to keep the Minions from raiding the net, and in a flash the match turned. Sukamuljo once again was a menace to the Danes up front, his flamboyant interceptions cutting off the returns and giving his partner more openings to work with.

Until then it had been a tight affair, with the Danes mixing their attack well and catching the Indonesians by surprise a few times. Sukamuljo and Gideon didn’t do themselves any favours either by showboating late in the first game, and that phase would cost them dear. It would take a lot of hard work, with endless smashes by both Gideon and Sukamuljo, to drag the match back their way.

“It was obvious the shuttles were slow and we had to try tactics that fits that,” said Rasmussen. “We played okay but they made it difficult for us. I’m not satisfied; we had our chances. We didn’t play bad tactics, but they are a good pair so you have to play your best. You need to have two good full sets to beat those guys.”

Astrup admitted they hadn’t kept things tight enough in the third, and that had made the difference: “We made easy mistakes, we didn’t move the legs enough in the second and third games, we took  some easy choices and they punished us for that. We had to play our highest to beat them.”

The volatility of Group A was once again in evidence when world champions Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen took on younger compatriots Han Chengkai/Zhou Haodong. The younger pair gave their seniors a torrid time in the first two games before the more experienced Li and Liu pulled away, 21-17 26-28 21-13.

Faizal/Widjaja Win

Indonesia’s Mixed Doubles pair Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja scored a significant win over All England champions Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino, 21-18 16-21 21-18 – their first in three matches against the Japanese.

“The shuttles are slow so it wasn’t easy to attack us and vice-versa,” said Widjaja. “We just had to be patient. We had a 15-10 lead in the second game but we then got caught in their slow rhythm.”

Mixed Doubles top seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong have been nearly unchallenged this season, and their opening match defeat of England’s Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith was a sample of how they have dealt with most opponents. The Chinese needed just 39 minutes to get past the England pair, 21-16 21-17.

“Amazing pair, best in the world,” said Marcus Ellis admiringly of Zheng and Huang. “No matter how much you compete with them they find those three or four points gap in the game where they get the lead, and as soon as you give them a three-four point advantage, it’s difficult to fight back. We needed to be with them all the way, which we did in parts, but we let them get away in a couple of stages and that cost us.”

Both Malaysian pairs in action – Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying and Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai – fell; the former to China’s Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping in Group B and the latter to Thailand’s Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai in Group A.

In Women’s Doubles Group B, Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara (Japan) and Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan (Korea) chalked up straight-games wins over Gabriela Stoeva/Stefani Stoeva (Bulgaria) and Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajongjai (Thailand)  respectively.

Nominees Announced for BWF’s Night of Nights

Nominees Announced for BWF’s Night of Nights

Badminton World Federation’s Player of the Year Awards, to be presented at the sport’s annual Gala Dinner next week in Guangzhou, will provide a fitting curtain raiser to the inaugural HSBC BWF World Tour Finals.

The prestigious awards night recognises the achievements of our elite badminton players and pairs in six categories.

Winners in five of the categories will be chosen by the BWF Awards Commission from a list of nominees while the Most Improved Player is special direct award from the Commission.

Indonesia’s all-conquering Men’s Doubles team of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo are aiming for back-to-back crowns in the Male Player of the Year category.

Japan’s Women’s Doubles pair Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota (featured image) capped off a breakthrough season last year claiming the Most Improved Player of the Year award. This year they could go one better, nominated for Female Player of the Year alongside Tai Tzu Ying and Huang Yaqiong.

Lucas Mazur is again up for the Male Para-badminton Player of the Year award, his third nomination in a row, while Sujirat Pookkham is shortlisted alongside first-time nominees Yuma Yamazaki (Japan) and Leani Ratri Oktila (Indonesia).

FULL LIST OF NOMINEES

Male Player of the Year

Kento Momota (Men’s Singles, Japan)
Highlight: Winner – Total BWF World Championships 2018 & Badminton Asia Championships 2018

Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Men’s Doubles, Indonesia)
Highlight: 8 x Winner – HSBC BWF World Tour 2018 & Asian Games 2018

Zheng Siwei (Mixed Doubles, China)
Highlight: Winner – Total BWF World Championships 2018 & Asian Games 2018

Female Player of the Year

Tai Tzu Ying (Women’s Singles, Chinese Taipei)
Highlight: 6 x Winner – HSBC BWF World Tour 2018 & Asian Games 2018

Huang Yaqiong (Mixed Doubles, China)
Highlight: Winner – Total BWF World Championships 2018 & Asian Games 2018

Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota (Women’s Doubles, Japan)
Highlight: 6 x Winner – HSBC BWF World Tour 2018

Eddy Choong Most Promising Player of the Year

Apriyani Rahayu (Women’s Doubles, Indonesia)
Highlight: Winner – YONEX-SUNRISE DR. AKHILESH DAS GUPTA India Open 2018 & TOYOTA Thailand Open 2018

He Jiting (Men’s Doubles & Mixed Doubles, China)
Highlight: Winner – VICTOR Korea Open 2018 (Mixed Doubles)

Han Chengkai/Zhou Haodong (Men’s Doubles, China)
Highlight: Winner – YONEX French Open 2018

Gregoria Mariska Tunjung (Women’s Singles, Indonesia)
Highlight: Semifinal – TOYOTA Thailand Open 2018 & DANISA Denmark Open 2018

Goh Jin Wei (Women’s Singles, Malaysia)
Highlight: Winner – Youth Olympics Games 2018 & World Junior Championships 2018

Male Para-badminton Player of the Year

Lucas Mazur (France)
Highlight: Winner – Men’s Singles SL4 & Mixed Doubles SL3-SU5 European Para-Badminton Championships 2018

Cheah Liek Hou (Malaysia)
Highlight: Winner – Men’s Singles SU5 Dubai, Uganda, Turkey & Ireland Para-Badminton International 2018

Jack Shephard (England)
Highlight: Winner – Men’s Singles SS6 & Men’s Doubles SS6 European Para-Badminton Championships 2018

Female Para-badminton Player of the Year

Sujirat Pookkham (Thailand)
Highlight: Winner – Women’s Singles WH1 Spain, Turkey & Thailand Para-Badminton International 2018

Yuma Yamazaki (Japan)
Highlight: Winner – Women’s Singles WH2 Spain, Turkey, Thailand & Japan Para-Badminton International 2018

Leani Ratri Oktila (Indonesia)
Highlight: Winner – Women’s Doubles SL3-SU5 & Mixed Doubles SL3-SU5 Asian Para Games 2018

The Most Improved Player of the Year recognises outstanding advances in performance across all players and pairs and is selected at the discretion of the Awards Commission.

Most Improved Player of the Year

Seo Seong Jae (Men’s Doubles & Mixed Doubles, Korea)
Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara (Women’s Doubles, Japan)
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chiraj Shetty (Men’s Doubles, India)
He Jiting (Men’s Doubles & Mixed Doubles, China)
Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (Men’s Singles, Indonesia)

BWF Major Event Hosts 2019-2025 Awarded

BWF Major Event Hosts 2019-2025 Awarded

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is excited to unveil 18 amazing hosts for upcoming Major Events across the next seven years – with the sport’s pinnacle tournaments headed to 11 Member Associations from four continents.

It is a landmark occasion for BWF as it endeavours to increase badminton’s global appeal and exposure in traditional and developing centres throughout the world.

The unprecedented decision to award 18 hosts in one bid process aligns with BWF’s vision to establish long-term targets to broaden its development initiatives and create a strategic position for the sport around new projects and partnerships.

BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer (pictured below, right) said the announcement endorses BWF’s long-term vision and efforts to globalise the sport.

“This is an unprecedented decision for BWF where we are announcing 18 of our Major Event country hosts as far forward as 2025,” Høyer said.

“It allows all of our hosts to work closely with BWF to ensure the staging of world-class tournaments as we continue to grow the sport globally.

“We were lucky to receive some outstanding bids, all with the same forward-thinking vision as us. Following an exhaustive assessment period, we were able to determine the host cities and countries that best represented the interests of the sport.

“We’d like to thank all parties involved in this process and look forward to venturing to new locations that have not had the honour of hosting our Major Events before.”

Final bids were presented at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Malaysia, earlier today.

BWF Council Members listened to bid presentations from Member Associations for the 18 Major Events announced between 2019 and 2025.

Council decisions were based on all of the bids and recommendations made to Council following dialogues in the BWF Major Events Consultation Process.

All bids will now go into a second and final phase of evaluation where the last details of the bids will be clarified before contractual finalisation where, in some cases, the final bid city will be confirmed and then announced.

BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund added: “The process that BWF went through with all hosts has been a very productive and new experience but also left BWF with very difficult considerations on some very good and long-term bids. We feel that today’s outcome is good for the future of the sport.”

Below are the decisions from today subject to finalisation.

Note: There are no World Championships in 2020 and 2024 due to the Olympic Games.

DETAILS – HOST CITIES FOR BWF MAJOR EVENTS 2019 – 2025

BWF Thomas & Uber Cups
2020:
City – Aarhus
Country – Denmark
2022:
City – Bangkok
Country – Thailand
2024:
City – TBC
Country – China

BWF Sudirman Cup
2021:
City – TBC
Country – China
2023:
City – New Delhi
Country – India
2025:
City – TBC
Country – China

BWF World Championships
2021:
City – TBC
Country – Spain
2022:
City – Tokyo
Country – Japan
2023:
City – Copenhagen
Country – Denmark
2025:
City – Paris
Country – France

BWF World Junior Championships
2019:
City – Kazan
Country – Russia
2020:
City – Auckland
Country – New Zealand
2021:
City – TBC
Country – China
2022:
City – TBC
Country – Spain
2023:
City – Honolulu
Country – USA

BWF World Senior Championships
2021:
City – TBC
Country – Spain
2023:
City – Seoul
Country – Korea
2025:
City – Auckland
Country – New Zealand

Players to Watch: LI-NING BWF World Junior Championships 2018

Players to Watch: LI-NING BWF World Junior Championships 2018

The 20th edition of the LI-NING BWF World Junior Championships will begin tomorrow in Markham, Canada.

The World Junior Championships, from its start in 1992, has provided a window into the next generation of elite shuttlers. Several junior champions have gone on to win the senior title as well – Ratchanok Intanon, Viktor Axelsen, Nozomi Okuhara and Kento Momota among them.

China have always performed strongly at the World Juniors. Only thrice in 20 years have they failed to win a gold – in 2011, 2012 and 2017.

Here are some of the players to watch at the 2018 edition:

Wang Zhiyi (Women’s Singles, China)

Wang (featured image) was the standout performer in China’s defence of its World Junior Mixed Team Championships title. A player somewhat in the mould of senior compatriot Chen Yufei, Wang has had an excellent year, winning five of eight tournaments she played in, including the Badminton Asia Junior Championships. She fell in the final of the Youth Olympic Games in a close match to Goh Jin Wei, but had her revenge last week in the quarterfinals of the Mixed Team event.

China was staring at elimination against Japan in the semifinals, with Wang two match points down to Hirari Mizui in an energy-sapping encounter that saw both contestants driven to the limits of their endurance. Wang, noticeably struggling between points, refused to give in and extracted errors from Mizui to take China into the final.

In the final, Wang was again in trouble as the strain from the previous match showed. Still, she revved herself up from a game down and 11-15 in the second to outlast her opponent Park Ga Eun. China’s junior head coach Wang Wei hailed her contribution as “outstanding” in China’s fifth straight title victory.

Goh Jin Wei (Women’s Singles, Malaysia)

Goh was an early achiever at the junior level, winning the world title in 2015 when she was just 15. Since then Goh has had sporadic successes, but she hasn’t been able to dominate the junior events, nor has she consistently troubled elite players.

Consequently, her victory at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires was welcome relief in a year without any titles. After beating Wang Zhiyi in a close finish she fell to the floor in a flood of tears – an unusual reaction from the usually restrained Malaysian. She is aware of the constraints of her short physical stature, but in her idol Akane Yamaguchi, she sees someone of her physical type who has overcome those constraints with unflagging energy.

Lakshya Sen (Men’s Singles, India)

Even as a wisp of a lad, Sen was marked in India as a prospect to watch. Sen reached the pre-quarterfinals of the World Junior Championships 2016 as a 15-year-old; last year he went a step ahead, making the quarterfinals. This year he will go in as one of the favourites, having won silver at the Youth Olympic Games and gold at the Asian Junior Championships, where he beat most of his biggest rivals.

In his quarter of the draw are ninth seed Chen Shiau Cheng (Chinese Taipei), seventh seed Bai Yupeng (China) and 14th seed Brian Yang (Canada).

Li Shifeng (Men’s Singles, China)

The wiry Chinese ensured a point for his team in the World Junior Mixed Team final against Korea despite a gruelling 90-minute battle against Japan’s Kodai Naraoka the previous day. Li’s big win this year was the Youth Olympic Games; other significant results include runner-up finishes at the Dutch Junior and German Junior championships.

Seeded third for the individual event at the World Junior Championships, Li might have to contend with the likes of Korea’s Choi Ji Hoon, sixth seed Nhat Nguyen (Ireland) – who nearly beat him at the YOG – and 11th seed Julien Carraggi (Belgium) in his quarter.

Kodai Naraoka (Men’s Singles, Japan)

Naraoka is quite the marathon man of the junior circuit, someone with never-say-die spirit. A prime example of this was at the YOG – Naraoka trailed Lakshya Sen 11-0 in the Men’s Singles semifinals, only to clamber back doggedly to get match point. Sen did manage to thwart him in the end, but Naraoka’s performance showed he couldn’t be counted out at any stage.

In the World Mixed Team semifinal, Naraoka set up what might have become a sensational upset for Japan, as he prevailed in a 90-minute slugfest with Li Shifeng. Semifinalist at the World Junior Championships last year, Naraoka is unseeded this time, and is in the bottom quarter, with second seed Ilhsan Leonardo Imanuel Rumbay (Indonesia), Kiran George (India), Jason The (Singapore) and Zhang Weiyi (China).

Wang Chan (Doubles, Korea)

The powerfully-built doubles player made heads turn in the Mixed Team event with his electric defence, marking him as a prospect at higher levels. Wang did double duty and won all his eight matches (Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles). He was instrumental in Korea making the final, where he and Men’s Doubles partner Shin Tae Yang got them off to a sound start with a victory in the opening match.

Wang had a strong run this year, beginning with the German Junior title in Men’s Doubles (with Ki Dong Ju) and a runner-up finish in Mixed Doubles (with Jeong Na Eun) at the Badminton Asia Junior Championships.

Xia Yuting/Liu Xuanxuan (Women’s Doubles, China)

If China eventually coasted to the World Junior Mixed Team title, they had the Women’s Doubles pair of Xia Yuting and Liu Xuanxuan to thank. The pair won the deciding match against Japan in the semifinals with plenty to spare; a day later in the final, they prevented the tie from going to the fifth match by shutting out Jang Eun Seo/Lee Jung Hyun in straight games. Xia’s powerful smashes from the back had much to do with the ease of those victories.

The pair, who have won two titles this season, are top-seeded for the World Junior Championships.

Marin Times it Right – Women’s Singles Review: TOTAL BWF World Championships 2018

Marin Times it Right – Women’s Singles Review: TOTAL BWF World Championships 2018

What is it with major events and Carolina Marin?

The Spaniard’s title win in Nanjing made her the first Women’s Singles player in history to win three World titles. That, and her Rio Olympics gold medal, have seen her capture the year’s most prestigious title four times in the last five years.

Interestingly, except for 2015, Marin has never dominated the season. This year, she arrived in Nanjing without a World Tour title to her name; her best being a lone semi-final in six events (apart from the European title). Similarly, in 2016, in the run-up to Rio Marin best was two semi-final performances in four Tour events. In 2014, the year she surprised everyone with her first World title, Marin hadn’t won a Tour event in eight appearances – losing even the Spanish Open final to Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour.

What this indicates is that the Spaniard (featured image) has mastered the ability to peak at the year’s standout event – the Olympics and the World Championships. In Nanjing, Marin was in a class of her own, shutting down rivals with ruthless efficiency.

Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan might have expected to trouble her in the second round, but Marin steamrolled her 21-9 21-8. Next was Japan’s Sayaka Sato, who was also dispatched in clinical fashion, 21-7 21-13.

India’s Saina Nehwal was her opponent in the quarter-finals, and most fans would have expected a difficult match for the Spaniard. Marin, however, only seemed to get better with every match, stunning the Indian 21-6 21-11, leading Nehwal to comment that she had never seen Marin play at such a high pace.

China’s He Bingjiao was the only player who would take a game off her; nevertheless, Marin recovered to eventually coast to a 13-21 21-16 21-13 victory. Around an hour after Marin had booked her place in her third World Championships final, familiar rival Pusarla V Sindhu followed her into the title round.

The Indian had fallen in two major finals, both hard-fought. In Rio she faded out only at the end, while in Glasgow last year, she lost the title to Nozomi Okuhara by the thinnest of margins. Her experience was expected to stand her in good stead against Marin.

And yet, once Marin broke away from the middle of the opening game, Pusarla’s challenge melted down in untypical fashion. The Indian was a frazzled mess in the second game, even as Marin bustled around the court imperiously.

“It’s been really special to be the first player to win three World Championships… This is really special because I, Carolina Marin, came back and I will fight for my next target,” declared the three-time World champion.

The big surprise in Women’s Singles was the stunning quarter-final exit of hot contender Tai Tzu Ying. The Chinese Taipei star was in unbeatable form heading to the Worlds, having lost just one match out of 35 through the season. It was against He Bingjiao that Tai unravelled, going down tamely after she’d recovered strongly in the second.

Meanwhile, defending champion Nozomi Okuhara (Japan) went down in the quarter-finals to Pusarla – a reversal of their fortunes from Glasgow; while compatriot Akane Yamaguchi made the semi-finals beating China’s Chen Yufei. It was Pusarla again who dented Japan’s hopes, getting the better of Yamaguchi in a thrilling semi-final, 21-16 24-22.

Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon and Canada’s Michelle Li were among the contenders who could not live up to their reputation. Intanon, the 2013 champion, struggled in her second round against Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt before going down to Nehwal in straight games. Eleventh seed Li was surprised in the second round by Vietnam’s Nguyen Thuy Linh in a tight finish.

There were encouraging performances from the recent World Junior champions. Malaysia’s Goh Jin Wei outplayed Japan’s Aya Ohori in the second round before falling to Okuhara, while Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung did justice to her growing reputation by beating Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour in the opening round.

Perhaps the tournament’s most arresting image, however, will be that of USA’s Beiwen Zhang doing a full split in a sensational rally in her third round against Tai Tzu Ying. Beiwen won that point but not the match.

China’s Young Heroes – Thomas Cup Review

China’s Young Heroes – Thomas Cup Review

China’s young generation came good on the big stage to help their team recapture the Thomas Cup six years after China last lifted the trophy.

In Shi Yuqi and the Men’s Doubles pair of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen, China found their heroes.

Nine-time winners China arrived in Bangkok for the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2018 secure in the knowledge that they had, on paper, the strongest team of the 16. With Olympic champion Chen Long as spearhead, and World champions Zhang Nan/Liu Cheng, All England winner Shi Yuqi, and Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen to follow; and five-time World champion Lin Dan as the most reliable fifth-match player a team could have, China looked solid in all departments.

On the other hand, this edition of the Thomas Cup had several teams with all-round depth. Defending champions and top seeds Denmark, for instance, arrived with a mostly unchanged squad from the one that won the tournament two years ago. Japan, Indonesia and Chinese Taipei too have enjoyed success in singles and doubles in recent years, while Hong Kong and Thailand looked capable of springing upsets against more fancied opponents.

Having qualified with ease to the quarter-finals, China’s first big test was expected to be Chinese Taipei. However, the Chinese powered past their rivals dropping just a game; after Chen Long provided the opening, Zhang/Liu held off Lee Jhe-Huei/Lee Yang in a close contest before Shi Yuqi edged past Wang Tzu Wei.

Shi again proved his mettle the following day, in the semi-finals against Indonesia. The All England champion was steadiness personified against Jonatan Christie, and his victory set up the tie for Li/Liu to storm past Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan. The veteran Indonesians are renowned for their mastery of the serve-return and net situations, but Li and Liu did not allow them any breathing space up front, and despite losing the first game, stepped on the gas in the second and third, with the Indonesians unable to repel their fierce attack. The manner of their victory was a signal that China were going into the final with all engines running smoothly.

Japan got the start they wanted in the final with Kento Momota’s masterly display against Chen Long. World champions Zhang/Liu outclassed Takuto Inoue/Yuki Kaneko to get China back into the contest.

Shi Yuqi once again stepped up to the plate and with commendable assurance, stopped Kenta Nishimoto in his tracks.

Japan fielded the scratch combination of Keigo Sonoda and Yuta Watanabe against Li and Liu – and it worked brilliantly for them. The Japanese were electric in the opening game, and it took all of Li and Liu’s skills to rein them in. With two match points, Watanabe and Sonoda nearly took Japan to a fifth match, but Li and Liu showed they had finally matured into world-beaters, staying calm during the storm to steer China through. China’s young guns had steered the ship to safely.

And while Japan went down, in their spirited display they made a grand impression. They had come through the toughest group of the four – Group C – against Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong and Germany – dropping just two matches on the way.

The semi-final against Denmark was an engrossing tie. Momota can well claim to be the best player in the world at the moment as he dispatched World champion Viktor Axelsen 21-17 21-9. Denmark, missing Carsten Mogensen, fielded Mathias Boe and Mads Conrad-Petersen against Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda and the new combination clicked.

Hans-Kristian Vittinghus was Denmark’s hero during their title victory in 2016, but Kenta Nishimoto was the better player on the day as he closed out the contest 21-19 21-12.

Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen took the tie to the fifth match. Jan O Jorgensen’s experience was expected to favour him against Kanta Tsuneyama, but the match turned out differently, with Jorgensen unable to contain the attacking Tsuneyama. The defending champions were out of the tournament.

A lot of the credit for Japan’s performance went, deservingly, to Momota, who capped a sensational comeback from suspension. Momota continued from where he left in Wuhan – he won the Asian title in April – winning all his six matches in Bangkok.

Another player who led his team admirably was Lee Chong Wei. The veteran was once again the rock for his team, winning all three of his matches, including the group match against Viktor Axelsen, in which he started out with spellbinding speed before relying on his craft to fashion a 21-9 21-19 victory. He followed that up by beating Anthony Ginting in the quarter-finals to put Malaysia ahead, but the rest of his team couldn’t quite keep up.

Hosts Thailand, in Group B with Indonesia, Korea and Canada, couldn’t match the sensational display of their Uber Cup team, failing to progress past the group stage. The tie that cost the Thais dearly was against Korea, as they went down 3-2.

Of the other teams, France did well to qualify for the quarter-finals, finishing second in Group A, ahead of India and Australia.

Group C was reckoned to be the ‘group of death’, with Japan, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong and Germany. While Germany did finish last in the group, they gave a good account of themselves, losing narrowly to Hong Kong 3-2, and taking a point off Japan (4-1). Mark Lamsfuss/Marvin Emil Seidel will look back with some happy memories, as they beat Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda and Hong Kong’s Lee Chun Hei/Or Chin Chung, both in close finishes.

YOG Mascot #Pandi Launched

YOG Mascot #Pandi Launched

The Youth Olympic Games mascot #Pandi was launched by the Buenos Aires 2018 Organising Committee last week. Inspired by the jaguar, one of the most emblematic wild cat species found in northern Argentina, the mascot aims to inspire youth to embrace sport as a tool to make the world a better place, while raising awareness about the species’ risk of extinction.

The mascot’s name has a hashtag at the beginning to demonstrate its strong online profile. The jaguar, found in Argentina’s northern region, is in great danger due to human causes. Various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have warned about the risk of extinction as a result of the destruction of their natural habitat and hunting.

In the animated short, the young jaguar doesn’t give up when faced with challenges as it tries to reach the ribbons with colours that symbolise Buenos Aires 2018.

During the race it uses the positive energy of the sports found on the Youth Olympic programme to overcome all kinds of obstacles.

Exhaustion can’t get in the way of its final goal, to reach the Obelisk in downtown Buenos Aires, where it’s embraced by the ribbons to become the mascot for the third summer edition of the Youth Olympic Games.

With perseverance and the festive spirit it reveals upon reaching its goal, #Pandi symbolises the desire for Buenos Aires 2018, the first edition of an Olympic celebration with strict gender equality, to serve as an important source of inspiration to build a better world through sport.

“Like the young athletes that give their best to qualify for the Games, the Buenos Aires 2018 mascot overcomes all types of adversity to reach its goals,” said the president of the Buenos Aires 2018 Organising Committee, Gerardo Werthein.

The Olympic mascots are ambassadors to the Games and play a fundamental role in spreading the event’s message and the Olympic values of friendship, respect, and excellence among different audiences, especially children and youth.

Korea Light Up Gold Coast

Korea Light Up Gold Coast

As one of the most remarkable badminton stories played out in Gold Coast yesterday, the question on most minds was – how had the Koreans done it?

A team that was, on paper, the weakest of the traditional powerhouses, and with several of their great doubles stars having either retired recently or chosen to stay away, had pulled off one of the biggest surprises in badminton history. The TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 couldn’t have hoped for a more climactic finish on its debut in Oceania.

New head coach Kang Kyung Jin had given a hint at the beginning of the tournament of what he expected of his team.

“We’re hoping to make the final,” he’d said, but few took notice. After all, there were other teams with greater depth, balance, and more crucially, experience. The Koreans had arrived in Gold Coast with a clutch of teenagers. The vehicle essentially had to move on three wheels – Son Wan Ho in Men’s Singles, Sung Ji Hyun in Women’s Singles, and Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee in Women’s Doubles. Any other victory would be a bonus.

And yet, with Son Wan Ho unavailable for the final, it was a tribute to the Koreans’ spirit that Choi Solgyu and Chae Yoo Jung turned the tables on the super-achieving Mixed Doubles Chinese pair, Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong, who flailed about in a torrent of nervous errors.

“When we started we were asked about our Men’s Doubles, and we were called a weak team, said Kang. “We tried to build our team spirit. We were in it together, and we believed we could do it.”

At the other end of the spectrum, China’s doubles coach Zhang Jun struggled to make sense of the abject collapse of their two heralded pairs.

“I think it was a combination of pressure and tiredness,” Zhang said. “Chen Qingchen played two matches in the semi-final; the second match finished quite late and there was no time to recover. We finished our team meeting only by 2am. But we decided to persist with Chen and Jia Yifan because they had good results against the Korean pair (Chang and Lee).”

China’s singles coach Xia Xuanze sought to explain the outcome as a result of the ongoing changes in the management of the team.

“We have a new structure and a new approach, with a lot of young players,” said Xia. “We tried some new strategies. We’re facing stronger opponents than ever before. We were pushed hard in the semi-final by Japan. It’s a good thing for us, as we will motivate ourselves to work even harder.”

Korea’s victory of the World Mixed Team Championships after 14 years promises the start of a new chapter for the country and for world badminton. It has been long since Korea savoured success in a team event, or even in multiple categories at the World Superseries or BWF World Championships. Head coach Kang and his team got the best possible start they could have hoped for with a young squad.

“This is a miracle,” Kang said. “Perhaps we will get more attention and more funding now. This can be a turning point for Korean badminton.”

Nozomi v Sindhu for Gold! – Day 4: HSBC BWF World Tour Finals

Nozomi v Sindhu for Gold! – Day 4: HSBC BWF World Tour Finals

Badminton fans, get ready – Nozomi Okuhara and Pusarla V Sindhu are coming to your screens again in another blockbuster!

The fast-growing rivalry between two of the biggest Women’s Singles stars will add another instalment tomorrow when the fierce competitors clash for the season-ending championship at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals in Guangzhou, China.

Both players advanced to the gold-medal showdown in straight games this afternoon, Okuhara (featured image; left) having the measure of her compatriot and defending champion, Akane Yamaguchi, while Pusarla (featured image; right) withstood a spirited surge from Ratchanok Intanon at the end of the second game. The Thai ace – who won the World title at the same Tianhe Gymnasium in 2013 – failed to capitalise on three game points as her big-hitting and long-reaching opponent prevailed 21-16 25-23 to reach the Finals showpiece for the second successive year.

Earlier, smooth operator Okuhara ended Yamaguchi’s quest for back-to-back Finals titles, efficiently repelling her teammate’s challenge, 21-17 21-14. The result marked a heartening return for the 2016 Finals champion who was unable to defend her crown last year due to an injury to her right knee.

“Last year, I couldn’t imagine that I would be here this year. I am very happy,” declared the diminutive 23-year-old.

In both semi-finals, it was not that the vanquished semi-finalists played badly but rather that the winners played better and, more importantly, took their chances. Okuhara and Yamaguchi dovetailed in their assessments of the key factor today – Okuhara’s unerring accuracy and patience during some exacting rallies. Her movement was also superior to Yamaguchi’s.

“I hardly got chances to attack her. I tried to speed up at the end but Okuhara still had control,” conceded Yamaguchi.

Meanwhile, Pusarla’s power and precision in her shot selection, plus her relentless retrieving ability, were to the fore in her conquest over one of the World Tour’s trickiest campaigners.

“I was patient, even when I made errors,” noted Pusarla, also 23 years of age. “I have improved mentally. Like the end of the second game, before I would have been nervous when she came back and got game points, but today I was focused on the next point and remained positive.”

Lamenting her inability to seize control, Intanon explained that Pusarla was “getting points easier than me”.

“I had to use lots more energy and, even when I got game points, things just didn’t work for me,” observed the 23-year-old Bangkok native.

As attention turned to the blockbuster finale, Pusarla predicted another long, tough battle versus the woman who denied her the World title in a 110-minute epic in Glasgow, Scotland last year.

“It will not be easy because we know each other’s styles,” said the player haunted by the fact that she has always faltered at the finish in big finals.

For the last two seasons – since claiming silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games – Pusarla has collected that colour medal on every big occasion; two World Championships, last year’s season finale as well as this year’s Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. To ascend to the highest step of the podium is her greatest – if deliberately under-stated – wish.

“I hope that ending the season, I can win gold. Definitely, it would mean a lot. I would not call it pressure. I will just play freely, like how I have played these last four matches and, if I win it, it will be very important for me,” she said emphatically.

Reacting to the news that she will play Pusarla for gold, Okuhara cited her arch-rival’s long reach as a distinct advantage, thus making for a difficult match.

“Sindhu is very aggressive so my defence will be important. I will have to be very fast and to be wary of her attacks. Just like in the World Championships, I will give my best,” vowed the No.2 seed.

Meanwhile, home fans celebrated China’s retention of the Mixed Doubles championship, won by Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen for the past two seasons. This time around the coveted honour will go to either Zheng and Huang Yaqiong or China’s No.2 pair, Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping.

Both partnerships were forced the distance in contrasting matches. First, Wang/Huang weathered a gritty fightback from Japan’s Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino, winning 21-9 19-21 21-13. Later, it was top guns and title favourites, Zheng and Huang, to show their mettle. The World champions had to come from a game down versus Thailand’s Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai. Ultimately, they prevailed 19-21 21-14 21-12 in 57 minutes.

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维尔玛晋级半决赛 —— 2018汇丰世界羽联世界巡回赛总决赛第三日

维尔玛晋级半决赛 —— 2018汇丰世界羽联世界巡回赛总决赛第三日

最后获得参赛名额的维尔玛和他的同胞辛杜都闯入了2018汇丰世界羽联世界巡回赛总决赛的淘汰赛阶段,前者在小组赛最后一日直落两局击败泰国人王佳伦。

维尔玛作为最后一位获得参赛资格的男单选手,依靠的是赛义德莫迪的冠军,才让他最终搭上前往广州的班机,而在那次比赛中他曾经三次死里逃生。而来到广州,维尔玛需要在对阵王佳伦时至少拿到一局比赛,显然这一次印度人又超额完成任务,21-9 21-18的比分确保他在B组跟随桃田贤斗出线。

“对于我在赛义德莫迪的比赛获胜因而拿到名额的怀疑确实存在,”维尔玛说道。“但是我并没有考虑赢得锦标赛或是资格什么的,我只是想享受比赛。”

“我知道如何对阵他,因为在瑞士公开赛时我曾经击败过他。我只是想保持耐心,第二局我的战术并没有执行到位,教练这时告诉我不要跟随他的节奏。我现在非常开心,也期待着下一场比赛。现在的我感觉很好,可以庆祝了。”

桃田贤斗在击败汤米·苏吉亚托后,取得小组赛三连胜,比分是21-14 21-18。

维尔玛的同胞辛杜,此前已经获得半决赛席位,不过仍然在最后一场比赛21-9 21-15击败张蓓雯。此前四次交手,张蓓雯曾经赢得三次对决,但是今天印度人显然处于最佳状态,并成为比赛的获胜者。

“我在第一局有一点被动,不过对于比赛的掌控很好,”辛杜说道。“我并没有太过在意之前的交手纪录,只是把这当做一次全新对抗,我非常高兴自己比赛的方式,每一场都是如此,尽管并不简单,击败山口茜和戴资颖很不容易,我希望我能以同样的状态继续下去。”

辛杜将和山口茜一起进入到半决赛,而头号种子戴资颖在和山口茜的第二局比赛中选择退赛,最后的比分是21-17 11-12。最终这位两次年终总决赛冠军得主说自己的右腿筋伤势不得不退赛。

“我之前从来没有受过这个伤,然而在今天比赛期间,我感觉有些不好,但是又无法做什么。我希望自己可以尽快恢复,为下赛季做好准备,”戴资颖说道。

在混双的B组,渡边勇大/东野有纱把握住了机会,他们击败陈炳顺/吴柳莹后进入半决赛。全英冠军此前输掉了小组赛,而面对必须赢的局面,两人21-9 21-18击败马来西亚人。

王懿律/黄东萍则21-16 21-13击败费萨尔/格洛瑞亚,这样三对组合全是1胜2负,但是计算小分让日本组合出线。

在女双赛场,韩国组合李绍希/申昇瓒击败斯托伊娃姐妹从而位于松本麻佑/永原和可那之后,以第二名出线。

中华台北的晋级 —— 2018汇丰世界羽联世界巡回赛总决赛第三日

中华台北的晋级 —— 2018汇丰世界羽联世界巡回赛总决赛第三日

今天下午,首次参加年度总决赛的陈宏麟/王齐麟闯入了男双半决赛。

这对中华台北选手在先输一局的情况下(13-21),经过50分钟的苦战,最终21-18 21-14逆转击败印尼组合阿山/塞蒂亚万。最终他们排在日本组合远藤大由/渡边勇大之后,位居B组第二。

“比赛初期我们的节奏比较慢,第二局开始状态被调动起来,我们表现得也更好了。”23岁的王佳伦说道。

他的搭挡,32岁的老将表示他们在小组赛中遇到的对手都很强劲,付出了很大努力。至于明天淘汰赛即将面对的强大对手,就要看明天的状态恢复得怎么样。

印尼组合认为关键分的把握是他们输球的原因,毕竟他们首局顺利拿下,第二局一度13-9领先,但是被追成14-14平之后,他们的大势已去。

“第三局他们更自信,打得非常主动,进攻很积极。” 塞蒂亚万难掩失望。

早些进行的A组头名争夺中,印尼选手吉迪恩因为受伤,选择退赛。这意味着中国组合李俊慧/刘雨辰和仅有的丹麦组合阿斯楚普/拉斯姆森携手晋级。

男子单打比赛中,周天成必须连下两城才可晋级,但是石宇奇没有给他机会,21-17 21-19拿下小组赛三连胜

“今天我们两个人发挥都不好,主要的区别在于关键分的把握。我希望能够在半决赛有更好的表现,晋级决赛。”22岁的石宇奇如此说到。

东道主收到了很多好消息,女双组合杜玥/李茵晖击败印尼组合波莉/拉哈尤(21-18 21-7)顺利晋级淘汰赛,但他们排在松友美佐纪/高桥礼华位居小组第二。混双郑思维/黄雅琼战胜泰国组合德差波/沙西丽 (21-19 21-8)以小组头名身份晋级。

另一场关键之战,因达农击败李文珊 (21-13 21-12)晋级。由于陈宇菲退赛,奥原希望三连胜以小组头名出线。

“今天我尝试放下压力,不要在意自己的失误,而是专注于比赛。”因达农最终拿到小组第二。

而输球的李文珊表示对手的快速移动和进攻让自己无法招架。她认为因达农在各个方面都强于自己,她没有什么赢球的机会。谈到对下赛季的期望时,这位27岁的选手表示希望提高身体素质,因为她感到在高强度的对决中身体有些跟不上节奏。

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Momota To Face Son Wan Ho in Semifinals

Momota To Face Son Wan Ho in Semifinals

World champion Kento Momota (Japan) will take on Son Wan Ho of Korea in the Men’s Singles semifinals of the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2018.

The semifinal draw was conducted this evening after the completion of the group stage. The winners of both groups were separated and their semifinal opponents – those second-placed in the respective groups – were picked by draw of lots.

Here are the semifinal matchups:

Men’s Singles

Shi Yuqi (China) vs. Sameer Verma (India)

Kento Momota (Japan) vs. Son Wan Ho (Korea)

 

Women’s Singles

Pusarla V Sindhu (India) vs. Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand)

Nozomi Okuhara (Japan) vs. Akane Yamaguchi (Japan)

 

Men’s Doubles

Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (China) vs. Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin (Chinese Taipei)

Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe (Japan) vs. Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (Denmark)

 

Women’s Doubles

Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Japan) vs. Du Yue/Li Yinhui (China)

Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara (Japan) vs. Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan (Korea)

 

Mixed Doubles

Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong (China) vs. Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Thailand)

Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping (China) vs. Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino (Japan)

Verma Clinches Semifinal Place – Day 3: HSBC BWF World Tour Finals

Verma Clinches Semifinal Place – Day 3: HSBC BWF World Tour Finals

Late qualifier Sameer Verma joined Indian compatriot Pusarla V Sindhu in the semifinals of the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2018 with a straight-games victory over Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen today.

The Men’s Singles qualifier had to win the final qualifying event, the Syed Modi International, to qualify for the season finale and he did just that, surviving three three-game matches on the way to the title. Today, Verma needed to take at least a game off Wangcharoen; the Indian did better, clinching his match in straight games, 21-9 21-18, to assure himself of a semifinal place irrespective of the outcome of the final Group B encounter between Japan’s Kento Momota and Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto.

“There was some doubt on how I had to perform at the Syed Modi International to qualify for the World Tour Finals,” said Verma. “But I wasn’t thinking about winning that tournament or about qualifying, I just wanted to enjoy the tournament.

“I knew how to play him as I beat him at the Swiss Open. I just had to be patient. In the second game I faltered in my strategy and my coach instructed me to not follow his game. I’m happy right now, and looking forward to my next match. I’m feeling good and celebrating now.”

Kento Momota topped the group beating Tommy Sugiarto 21-14 21-18 for his third straight win.

Verma’s compatriot Pusarla, already assured of her semifinal place, kept her slate clean by winning her third Group A match against USA’s Beiwen Zhang 21-9 21-15. Zhang had beaten Pusarla in three of their last four matches, but today the Indian was in fine fettle, giving her opponent nothing to work with as she retrieved athletically and fired precise winners.

“I was down a bit in the first game otherwise it was fine, I could manage the match well,” said Pusarla. “I didn’t think about our previous matches, I treated it like a fresh one. I’m happy with my form, each round went off well, although it wasn’t easy, beating Yamaguchi and Tai Tzu Ying wasn’t easy. I hope I move forward with the same positivity.”

Pusarla was joined in the semifinals by Akane Yamaguchi, who finished second in the group after top seed Tai Tzu Ying retired early in the second game, with Yamaguchi ahead 21-17 11-12. The two-time season finale champion said a right hamstring strain had forced her to quit.

“I’ve never had this injury before. I felt it during today’s match. I feel bad that the tournament ended like this for me but there was nothing I could do. I hope to recover from this and play well next season,” said Tai Tzu Ying.

In Mixed Doubles Group B, Japan’s Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino did their chances a world of good by beating Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying in straight games. The All England champions, having lost both their earlier group matches, were in a must-win situation and held off a stiff challenge from the Malaysians in the second game to close it out 21-9 21-18.

With group leaders Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping (China) powering past Indonesia’s Hafiz Faizal/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja 21-16 21-13, three pairs were equal with one win and two losses each, but Watanabe/Higashino made the cut over Faizal/Widjaja and Chan/Goh on better game difference.

In Women’s Doubles, Korea’s Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan beat Bulgaria’s Stefani Stoeva/Gabriela Stoeva to claim the second semifinal spot from Group B behind Japan’s Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara.

小黄人因伤退赛

小黄人因伤退赛

男双卫冕冠军吉迪恩/苏卡姆乔以及女单选手陈雨菲都因为伤病退出了2018汇丰世界羽联世界巡回赛总决赛的舞台。

吉迪恩因为颈部受伤选择在今天的最后一场小组赛前退赛,而陈雨菲在对阵奥原希望时因为右脚踝的伤病同样告别了广州总决赛。

根据相关规则16.2.5,如果因为疾病或是伤病使得个人或组合未能完成全部小组比赛,那么该个人或组合的全部结果都将被清除,同时在比赛期间退出被认定为未能完成全部小组比赛。

因此,男双A组将只剩下三对组合——李俊慧/刘雨辰、阿斯楚普/拉斯姆森以及韩呈恺/周昊东。

因为前两对选手都击败了韩呈恺/周昊东,这样他们将都会晋级半决赛。

而在女单B组,陈雨菲的退出意味着奥原希望和因达农进入到半决赛,奥原希望同时还战胜了因达农和李文珊,而因达农因为击败了李文珊同样晋级半决赛。

Triumphant Taipei – Day 3: HSBC BWF World Tour Finals

Triumphant Taipei – Day 3: HSBC BWF World Tour Finals

Revelling in their Finals debut, Chen Hung Ling and Wang Chi-Lin (featured image) battled into the Men’s Doubles semi-finals at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals this afternoon.

The Chinese Taipei duo rebounded from a game down to oust veteran Indonesians, Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, 13-21 21-18 21-14 in 50 minutes at Tianhe Gymnasium. They completed victory with Chen punching the winning shot at net to ensure they finished second to Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe in Group B, thus reaching the weekend of the prestigious season finale in Guangzhou, China.

“We weren’t up to speed at the start of the match but we got better in the second and third games and our performance improved,” said 23-year-old Wang.

His partner, aged 32, noted they have faced extremely tough opposition in the round-robin phase and have used a lot of energy. Asked about their physical condition to continue waging war versus other top contenders, he said he will wait and see how he feels tomorrow.

Ruing their inability to capitalise on capturing the first game, as well as a 13-9 lead in the second and keeping pace with their opponents until 14-14 in the decider, the Indonesians said they could not wrestle control at key moments.

“In the third game, they were confident and they played very well, especially the drive – and they attacked a lot,” assessed a disappointed Setiawan.

The result proved a double whammy for Indonesia following the earlier Group A news that defending champions, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, had withdrawn from the tournament due to Gideon suffering a neck injury. This development ensured the progress of China’s Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen and Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen – the lone Danes in the event – to the semi-finals.

By contrast, Chen and Wang’s success boosted their compatriots’ spirits in the wake of Chou Tien Chen’s demise in Men’s Singles. The top qualifier in the HSBC Race To Guangzhou standings failed in his mission to reach the semi-finals. Needing to beat China’s Shi Yuqi in straight games, Chou saw his hopes dashed as Shi blazed away from 16-16 to grab the first game. The final score was 21-17 21-19 to the hometown star.

“I don’t think either of us played very well today. The main difference was that I played well on the crucial points. I’ll have to wait for the (semi-final) draw but, since I am already in the semi-finals, I hope to perform better and progress to the final,” said the 22-year-old Chinese.

There was more great news for the hosts in the morning session as Du Yue/Li Yinhui reached the knockout stage in Women’s Doubles while Mixed Doubles titans, Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong, ensured they topped Group A. The latter defeated Thailand’s Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai (21-19 21-8) to remain favourites to lift the year-end championship. Meanwhile, Du and Li finished second to Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi in Women’s Doubles Group A. The Chinese grabbed their semi-final spot, beating Indonesia’s Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu (21-18 21-7).

The other significant result was Ratchanok Intanon’s progress to the Women’s Singles semi-finals. Regrouping after her loss against an ominously good Nozomi Okuhara yesterday, the Thai ace thwarted Canada’s Michelle Li (21-13 21-12) as Group B wrapped up. Okuhara, who had already won two matches, topped the standings despite the retirement of China’s Chen Yufei early in their clash today.

“I tried not to pressure myself too much today. I put aside mistakes and tried to concentrate better on my shots,” said Intanon who finished second in the group.

Hong Kong-born Li noted her rival’s attack and fast movement was too good for her. Intanon, she said, was “on top of everything” and did not give her a chance to get into the match. Looking ahead to next season, the 27-year-old hopes to “invest in a physio”, stating she could feel the toll which competing in a high-level event like the Finals has taken on her body.

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Gideon/Sukamuljo Bow Out With Injury

Gideon/Sukamuljo Bow Out With Injury

Men’s Doubles defending champions Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Women’s Singles contender Chen Yufei exited the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2018 with injuries.

While Gideon complained of a neck injury that forced the Indonesians to withdraw before their last group match today, Chen Yufei retired in her group match against Nozomi Okuhara with a right ankle injury.

According to General Competition Regulation 16.2.5, if illness or injury prevents a player/pair from completing all the group matches, all the results of that player/pair in the group will be deleted. Retiring during a match is considered to be not completing all group matches.

Thus, Men’s Doubles Group A had three pairs left in contention – Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen; Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (Denmark) and Han Chengkai/Zhou Haodong (China).

As both Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen and Astrup/Rasmussen beat Han Chengkai/Zhou Haodong, they will progress to the semifinals.

In Women’s Singles Group B, Chen Yufei’s retirement meant that Nozomi Okuhara (Japan) and Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand) progressed to the semifinals. Okuhara had two wins – over Intanon and Michelle Li (Canada) – while Intanon also beat Michelle Li to clinch her place in the semifinals.