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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) have unveiled the facilities that will be used for the athletics and powerlifting events during the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, set to take place in Abu Dhabi from March 14 to 21, 2019.
Athletics, powerlifting and swimming events at the 2018 MENA Special Olympics Games are scheduled to take place in March 2018.
Representatives from both NYUAD and the Special Olympics were present at the campus gymnasium for the ceremony that celebrated the university’s role as a future venue for the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Games.
Speakers remarked on the university’s pride in its sports facilities as well as the significance of the diverse and multicultural character of NYUAD.
With more than 120 countries are set to be represented among the athletes that will arrive in Abu Dhabi for the 2019 edition of the Games, a call for volunteers was opened among NYUAD’s diverse student population – composed of over 115 nationalities.
The gathering was addressed by NYUAD Vice-Chancellor Al Bloom; Special Olympics CEO, Peter Wheeler; Special Olympics Ambassador and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix; and two NYUAD student athletes – Class of 2020 Women’s Volleyball player Sara Michelle Pan Algarra (Venezuela) and Class of 2018 Footballer Nikolaj Nielson (Denmark).
The ceremony began with the first female Emirati Olympic swimmer and NYUAD Class of 2019 student Nada Al Bedwawi leading the procession of flags as the UAE flag-bearer, NYUAD student Algarra carrying the NYUAD flag, and UAE Special Olympics athlete Mariam Al Zaabi carrying the Special Olympics flag with NYUAD student Nielson.
NYUAD Vice Chancellor Al Bloom said: “An NYU Abu Dhabi education seeks to develop, beyond analytic skills and a deep and broad intellectual foundation capacity to build bridges of common understanding and purpose across the differences that splinter our world. Hosting the Special Olympics on this campus deeply reinforces our own aspirations for the university as an agent of global vision, engagement, and cooperation.”
Peter Wheeler, CEO of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, commented: “We had a series of site visits with our international technical team recently and they were blown away by the venues for the Games here in Abu Dhabi. NYUAD has world-class facilities as well as a hugely diverse student population who will make brilliant volunteers at the Games. We are looking forward to working with them to put on the most unified Special Olympics Games in history.”
Set to be the world’s largest humanitarian and sporting event of 2019, the Special Olympics World Summer Games will be hosting the first-ever games to take place in the MENA region in Abu Dhabi.
Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities, with more than five million athletes in over 170 countries and more than a million volunteers.
The Games will feature seven days of competition in 24 sports including basketball, athletics, golf, tennis, cycling, and swimming.