2016 Dubai World Superseries Finals: Meet the finalists

The finalists at this year’s tournament have been decided after a day of high-quality semi final action at the Hamdan Sports Complex. Gruffudd Owen profiles the players who will be dreaming of glory on Sunday

Tian Houwei (men’s singles final)

Beat Jan O Jorgensen 21-17, 19-21, 21-13 in the semi final

Despite entering the Dubai World Superseries Finals as a no. 3 seed, it is perhaps something of a surprise that the 24-year-old from China has made it this far.

After starting the season promisingly with an appearance in the final of the All England Open in March, his next best performance was a run to the semi finals in Indonesia.

A first round casualty in a quarter of this year’s Superseries tournaments, Houwei has nevertheless clearly upped his game in Dubai.

Viktor Axelsen (men’s singles final)

Beat Son Wan Ho 21-17, 21-19 in the semi final

Axelsen’s performances have caught the eye in Dubai this week, but in truth this Danish youngster is simply building on an impressive 12 months that have seen him go from being an up-and-coming prodigy to an established star in the men’s game.

After ending the 2015 Finals as runner-up, the 22-year-old then went on to claim the bronze medal at this summer’s Rio Olympic Games, before emerging victorious in the best match of this year’s Finals against Lee Chong Wei – the first time Axelsen has triumphed over the world no. 1.

Tai Tzu Ying (women’s singles final)

Beat Sun Yu 21-19, 21-19 in the semi final

There’s no doubt the diminutive shuttler from Chinese Taipei merits her spot in Sunday’s women’s singles final.

In addition to winning Superseries events in both Indonesia and Hong Kong, the world no. 1 also reached the final in Malaysia and Denmark, comfortably sealing her passage to Dubai as top seed.

“I’m very happy because it’s the first time I’ve beaten Sun Yu after five consecutive losses,” she said after her semi final win.

“We only just played at the China Open a few weeks ago, so I guess we’re quite familiar with each other.” 

Sung Ji Hyun (women’s singles final)

Beat PV Sindhu 21-15, 18-21, 21-15 in the semi final

Sung Ji Hyun’s 2016 Superseries record was hardly spectacular – a final appearance back home at the Korea Open the single highlight – yet the 25-year-old has been at her very best in Dubai this week, knocking out Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu in the last four.

It will take another mammoth effort to overcome world no. 1 Tai Tzu Ying, but the Korean will surely be delighted to have made it this far, especially when considering how competitive women’s singles badminton is at the moment.

Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda (men’s doubles final)

Beat Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding 21-17, 21-19 in the semi final

Born just six days apart, Kamura and Sonoda have been playing together on the professional circuit since they were eighteen years old.

Such a close partnership cannot be underestimated when tracking their rise to the world’s top five, while strong performances in the regular season – including a title in Hong Kong and a runner-up spot in Singapore – saw them qualify for the Finals as top seeds.

Close to elimination in the group stages after losing to Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding, the Japanese pair pulled through and gained revenge on the Danes by beating them in the last four to make the final.

It’s the end of the year and you want to end on a high. It’s the Finals; it’s the big one.

Gabrielle Adcock, Mixed doubles defending champion

V Shem Goh/Wee Kiong Tan (men’s doubles final)

Beat Chai Biao/Hong Wei 21-18, 21-16 in the semi final

What a final six months of the year it’s been for V Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan.

After clinching silver at the Olympics and winning the Denmark Open in October, a first Finals victory of their careers would carry their purple patch into 2017 – and soften Malaysia’s disappointment at seeing Lee Chong Wei exit the men’s singles competition early.

Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (women’s doubles final)

Beat Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Christinna Pedersen 21-12, 21-11 in the semi final

The undisputed queens of women’s doubles, this Japanese pair’s 2016 record makes for impressive reading.

Gold medallists in Rio and Superseries champions in no fewer than four regular season events (England, India, Indonesia and Denmark), they are top seeds in Dubai and sit at the summit of the world rankings.

They have coasted to the final in Dubai without losing a game, and are clear and deserved favourites to lift the trophy they first won in 2014.

Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan (women’s doubles final)

Beat Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee 23-21, 22-20 in the semi final

With all the plaudits going to the Japanese in the women’s doubles, the performances of this Chinese pairing have flown under the radar somewhat.

Entering the Finals as unfancied no. 8 seeds after a solitary regular season win in France, the teenagers are undefeated this week.

Although they will be regarded as underdogs on Sunday – as any pairing would when up against Matsutomo and Takahashi – can they go all the way and spring one final, glorious surprise?

Chris Adcock/Gabby Adcock (mixed doubles final)

Beat Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto 21-19, 17-21, 21-9 in the semi final

They may have made it to this year’s Finals as lowly seventh seeds, but the English duo – partners both on and off the court – seem to thrive when competing at the Hamdan Sports Complex.

Champions in 2015, they have battled – and prevailed – in two key matches in as many days, and will be determined to make sure the names on the mixed doubles title remain unchanged this year.

“It feels special being here,” Gabby Adcock revealed after reaching the final.

“It’s the end of the year and you want to end on a high. It’s the Finals; it’s the big one.”

Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen (mixed doubles final)

Beat Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen 21-14, 21-18 in the semi final

Just 19 years old, Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen of China were a revelation this season, winning titles in Japan and France and ending up as runners-up in three more Superseries tournaments.

Also appearing in the women’s doubles final, Chen Qingchen is aiming to become only the second player in Finals history to be crowned champion in two categories in the same year.  

Play begins on the fifth and final day of the 2016 BWF World Superseries Finals at 13:00 (UAE time) on Sunday 18 December. The tournament takes place at the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai.

Gruffudd Owen will be reporting live from the event - go to www.vision.ae or @visionsportae on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook for more updates