Wins for Chou Tien Chen and PV Sindhu at Dubai World Superseries Finals

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Dubai fan favourite Kidambi Srikanth crashed out of the Dubai World Superseries Finals at the Hamdan Sports Complex on Thursday, frustrated by his failure to recapture the sparkling form that swept him to four tour titles this season.

Again plagued by inconsistency and unsure strokes, India’s top gun fell in straight games to Chou Tien Chen who, like Kidambi, was under pressure, also have lost his opening Group B match on Wednesday.

The do-or-die battle looked to be heading towards a decider – with Kidambi ahead 17-14 – when he suddenly slumped into an error-strewn patch of play, gifting four consecutive points to his appreciative rival. Chou seized full advantage and went on to take the honours, 21-18 21-18.

Ruing his demise, the vanquished 24-year-old reflected on his erratic performances following a break after back-to-back victories in Denmark and France in October.

“I lost momentum with that break. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that but it isn’t something you can predict. You have to be at your best in tournaments like these where there are top players in all the matches,” assessed the loser candidly.

Chou Tien Chen (2) (1497x2000)

On the opposite side of the net, Chou was ecstatic to stay alive in the season finale and now contemplates a seismic clash with Viktor Axelsen on Friday. The Chinese Taipei ace will have to put the defending champion out of the tournament if he is to progress to the semi-finals.

“I tried my best today. I had nothing to lose. We are all top players so we are about the same level. I wanted to restrict his attack and I am happy to win,” said the 27-year-old.

The vocal and enthusiastic Indian fans still had something to smile about though as PV Sindhu cemented her place in the semi-finals with an easy victory over Sayaka Sato 21-13 21-12. With a win over He Bingjiao, Sindhu will now carry the weight of Indian expectations as she and Akane Yamaguchi have qualified from Group A.

Another surprise unfolded in Men’s Doubles Group A with top seeds and newly-crowned joint BWF Male Players of the Year, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, losing in straight games to last year’s Dubai runners-up, Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda.

PV Sindhu (5) (2000x1664)

The smooth operators from Japan were all over their arch-rivals, attacking and defending equally effectively to book their semi-final place, 21-17 21-17 in 39 minutes.

“We have had some ups and downs this season. We wanted to make sure we won tonight and boost our confidence. We were in the final last year but we didn’t win. This time we want to make up for that,” said Kamura.

The high-flying Indonesians, winners of six titles on the MetLife BWF World Superseries circuit this year, admitted they under-performed and credited their opponents’ sturdy defence for thwarting their attacking options. Gideon and Sukamuljo will now have to beat China’s Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen in straight games to reach the semi-finals.

Olympic and World champions, Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir, signalled their intention to cap a good season with another big title – and one notably missing from their trophy cabinet. The Indonesians manoeuvred past Finals debutants, Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing of Malaysia (21-17 21-19) for their second successive win in Mixed Doubles Group B.

Surprisingly, it means the stellar duo will advance to their first Superseries Finals semi-final. In Group A, Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen of China overcame Indonesia’s other Mixed pair, Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto (21-12 19-21 21-16), to be two wins away from retaining their Dubai crown.

Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir (2000x1442)

Chen also rescued her Women’s Doubles ambitions. Having lost their first match, she and Jia Yifan rebounded by beating Korea’s Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee, 21-14 21-17. The result leaves Group A tantalisingly poised with all four pairs having a 1-1 record going into the final round-robin stage tomorrow.

In Group B, Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Christinna Pedersen of Denmark pulled themselves together, after squandering game point in the first game, to oust Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Ya Ching/Wu Ti Jung (20-22 21-13 21-17).

In earlier matches Shi Yuqi created waves in Group B of Men’s Singles, working his way to a dogged upset of defending champion Viktor Axelsen. Axelsen led for much of the match but a stubborn Shi claimed the win 13-21 21-18 21-17

In Group A, Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long kept himself in the hunt for a semi-final place beating top seed Son Wan Ho (Korea). The group qualifiers to the semi-finals will now be decided in the final match between Lee Chong Wei and Son.

Women’s Singles Group B saw Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand) beat defending champion Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei) and China’s Chen Yufei get the better of Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun.

In Group A, top seed Akane Yamaguchi (Japan) pocketed her second straight win, sending China’s He Bingjiao crashing to her second defeat in a 21-14 13-21 21-8 result.

Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl (2000x1392)

Women’s Doubles Group A was thrown wide open with top seeds Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto (Japan) notching up their first win, as did defending champions Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan. The four pairs are evenly matched now with a win and a loss each.

In Group B, Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan crashed to their second straight defeat, falling 21-18 21-13 to Japan’s Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota. Mixed Doubles champions in 2015, England’s Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock, were left in dire straits after a 18-21 21-18 21-14 loss to China’s Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping, who have a foot in the semi-finals following their second straight win.

Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet also rode their form to their second straight win, a 21-16 16-21 21-6 result over Japan’s Kenta Kazuno/Ayane Kurihara.

Friday’s sessions are from 9am-12noon, and 1pm-9pm. The semi-finals will be played on Saturday from 10am-3pm and 4pm- 9pm. The finals will be played on Sunday from 1pm -8pm.

Tickets are on sale at https://dubai.platinumlist.net/ and are also available at the door. For all information about the event visit www.dubaisuperseriesfinals.ae.

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Shi Yuqi stuns Viktor Axelsen to cause massive upset at Dubai World Superseries Finals

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Shi Yuqi created waves on Thursday in Group B of the Men’s Singles, working his way to a dogged upset of defending champion Viktor Axelsen on the second day of play at the Dubai World Superseries Finals at the Hamdan Sports Complex.

What made the result particularly memorable for Shi was that Axelsen looked like he could do no wrong through the early part of the contest, overwhelming the Chinese with his big attack and inventive shots.

After slipping mid-match, the Dane once again powered ahead to establish big leads at 9-2 and 16-11, but a stubborn Shi refused to cave in.

The Chinese hung on, not letting Axelsen get away with quick winners, and as he inched his way back, there was a distinct drop in the Dane’s level. The end came quickly, with Shi taking the last five points to claim the win: 13-21 21-18 21-17.

“It was my first match against Axelsen; I was unfamiliar with his game initially, and I took some time to get used to it. I wasn’t frustrated when I lost the first game. Viktor smashes very hard, so I’d decided that even when he smashed past me, I wouldn’t dwell on it. I tried to minimise my unforced errors. It’s all gone well so far for me with two wins; it feels magical in my first World Superseries Finals.”

Ng Ka Long (2000x1408)

Meanwhile, in Group A, Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long kept himself in the hunt for a semi-final place beating top seed Son Wan Ho (Korea).

Ng, who was blown away in his opening match yesterday by Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei in 40 minutes, produced his best under pressure in the third game, staying solid in long rallies and forcing the eventual error from his Korean opponent. The group qualifiers to the semi-finals will now be decided in the final match between Lee and Son.

“I’m very excited. I’m in a tough group and the target was to win a match in the group so I met my target and I’m hoping to secure a place in the semi-finals,” said Ng.

“Both of us were running out of stamina. What made the difference was that I was more determined. It was tiring, but I kept telling myself that I have to be focused.”

Women’s Singles Group B saw Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand) beat defending champion Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei) and China’s Chen Yufei get the better of Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun. The Tai Tzu Ying-Intanon match was evenly balanced in both games, but the Thai was sharper at the end to close it out 21-18 21-17 to edge ahead in her career record against Tai at 10-9.

Ratchanok Intanon (2) (1587x2000)

“We both play a similar style,” said Intanon. “That also helps me anticipate her shots better. Most of our contests are very close. I’m very happy with the way I played at the end of both games.”

In Group A, top seed Akane Yamaguchi (Japan) pocketed her second straight win, sending China’s He Bingjiao crashing to her second defeat in a 21-14 13-21 21-8 result.

Women’s Doubles Group A – the ‘Group of Death’- was thrown wide open with top seeds Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto (Japan) recovering from their opening loss yesterday to stop China’s Huang Yaqiong/Yu Xiaohan 21-16 21-16. And with defending champions Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan also notching up their first win, against Korea’s Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee (Korea), the four pairs are evenly matched now with a win and a loss each.

In Group B, Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan crashed to their second straight defeat, falling 21-18 21-13 to Japan’s Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota.

Chen Yufei (1301x2000)

Mixed Doubles champions in 2015, England’s Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock, were left in dire straits after a 18-21 21-18 21-14 loss to China’s Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping, who have a foot in the semi-finals following their second straight win.

Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet also rode their form to their second straight win, a 21-16 16-21 21-6 result over Japan’s Kenta Kazuno/Ayane Kurihara.

Play continues on Thursday until 9pm. Friday’s sessions are from 9am-12noon, and 1pm-9pm. The semi-finals will be played on Saturday from 10am-3pm and 4pm- 9pm. The finals will be played on Sunday from 1pm -8pm.

Tickets are on sale at https://dubai.platinumlist.net/ and are also available at the door. For all information about the event visit www.dubaisuperseriesfinals.ae.

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China's Chen Long secures spot at the lucrative Dubai World Superseries Finals

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In action: Chen Long

China’s Olympic champion Chen Long has powered through the final two qualifying events to secure a berth in the prestigious and lucrative season-ending Dubai World Superseries Finals which will be held at the Hamdan Sports Complex from December 13-17.

Only the top eight ranked players in the Destination Dubai rankings qualify for the blockbuster event, and the 2016 Olympic champion and double world champion seemed out of the running when ranked a lowly 20th with two events remaining in the 12 MetLife BWF World Superseries qualifying calendar.

But the 28 year old surprised all, forcing his way back into contention by winning the Tahoe China Open last week, and finishing runner-up to his great rival Lee Chong Wei in the Yonex Sunrise Hong Kong Open which finished on Sunday.

The final was their first clash since Chen upstaged Lee at the Rio Olympics, and in a fitting result, Lee, the most prolific winner in the history of the BWF World Superseries with 46 titles, closed the Badminton World Federation’s flagship tour by capturing the last Superseries title ever.

The BWF has announced it will launch a new tour in January, featuring million-dollar prize money in its top four events.

Lee and Chen, who qualified for Dubai in fourth and seventh places respectively, will be joined by Indian superstar Kidambi Srikanth who finished the season with four titles from five finals, and World Champion and defending Dubai champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.

In terrific run of form: Kidambi Srikanth

Terrific run of form: Kidambi Srikanth

Korea’s Son Wan Ho, China’s Shi Yuqi and Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long round out the star studded field.

Meanwhile, Tai Tzu Ying capped an outstanding MetLife BWF World Superseries season by wresting her fifth title in Hong Kong, defeating India’s golden girl Pusarla V Sindhu.

Tai, the Dubai defending champion, and Olympic silver medallist Sindhu will face a formidable field in Dubai, which includes Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain, World Champion Nozomi Okuhara, Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon and China’s He Bingjiao.

Japan’s Okuhara finished outside of the top eight but will score a berth courtesy of a wild card offered to all current world champions.

Apart from the world class action in the singles competitions, the competition is also set to feature a brilliant line-up of top pairs across all men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles disciplines.

In the men’s doubles the season has belonged to Indonesia’s Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, who claimed six titles from eight finals. Their win in Hong Kong saw them finish the season in the same triumphant fashion that they started, when they captured the coveted All England crown in March.

“I cannot believe it. This has been an amazing year and we will try to finish by winning the Dubai Finals,” said 22-year-old Sukamuljo.

Denmark’s Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen were denied their third title from five finals by the powerhouse Indonesians in Hong Kong, but qualified in second place for Dubai, with their countrymen Mads Pieler Kolding and Mads Conrad Petersen also qualifying.

Victorious at the Korea Open: Denmark's Mathias Boe (L) and Carsten Mogensen (R)

Victorious at the Korea Open: Denmark’s Mathias Boe (L) and Carsten Mogensen (R)

Last year’s runners-up in Dubai, Japan’s Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda qualified in third place, with world champions Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan in fourth.

In the women’s doubles there was predictable anguish for Japan who boasted four of the top seven pairs, but with a limit of two players or teams from each country in each category, two teams were destined to miss out.

A heartbreaking first round loss in Hong Kong saw 2016 Olympic Champions and 2016 runners-up in Dubai Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahshi miss out on qualification, while quarter-finals finishes elevated Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto and Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota into the top two positions.

World Champions and defending Dubai champions Chen Qingchen/ Jia Yifan and Olympic silver medallists Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Christinna Pedersen of Denmark will also be back to fight for the title.

The mixed doubles will see the 2016 Dubai champions, China’s Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen back to defend their title, where they will be up against 2015 winners and 2016 runners-up, England’s husband and wife team of Chris and Gabby Adcock, and 2016 Olympic champions and 2017 World Champions Tontowi Ahmad/ Liliyana Natsir.

Tickets are on sale at https://dubai.platinumlist.net/

For all information about the event visit www.dubaisuperseriesfinals.ae.

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