Asian badminton players dominate in Dubai

The Asian superstars of badminton ended the year on a high at the BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals

A very vocal crowd enjoyed a sensational final day of the BWF Destination Dubai Superseries World Finals, which saw Asian players scoop the top spots at the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai.

After a season-long trek around the globe, the champions of the Men’s and Women’s singles, Men’s and Women’s doubles and Mixed Doubles were decided, sharing a hefty prize purse of US$1m.

BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund praised the turnout, with crowds of up to 2000 people attending each day of the event, supporting the matches and taking part in the activities around the stadium.

“Dubai has hosted a world class sporting event at such a high level. All players, spectators and television viewers enjoyed this inaugural year.”

It looked like it was set to be a day dominated by Chinese players, who had competitors in four of the five finals, but the drama that unfolded on the centre court was never going to be that straightforward.

Korean duo Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong set the early standard with a frentic and tense final against Chinese pair Chai Biao and Hong Wei in the Men’s Doubles. The normally unflappable Koreans found themselves a set down and needed to produce some miraculous saves to drag themselves back into the match before going on to win 19-21, 21-19, 21-16.

“This ranks as one of our best wins,” said an ecstatic Seong. “We knew Chai and Hong are a very aggressive pair; they’re getting better all the time.”

With the crowd riding high on enthusiasm, the women’s final added another twist to the day’s event when the imperious Chinese World Champions Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei were defeated in straight sets by Japanese pair Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi. It was China’s first defeat in a major final in Women’s Doubles for over a year.

The pressure was then on Chinese superstar Chen Long to earn his nation’s first victory in the Men’s Singles, but he eased through his final 21-16, 21-10 against Danish player Hans Kristen Vittinghus who simply couldn’t keep up his fantastic form from earlier in the week.

“There was pressure all the time from him,” rued Vittinghus. “I should’ve been calmer.”

Long’s victory capped off a remarkable season for the 25-year-old adding to the World Championship title he won in Copenhagen earlier this year.

“I came out and just wanted to play my best game possible. With so many fans watching I didn’t want to disappoint them.

Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal lost to Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying in the Women's Singles

“This is the first time Dubai is hosting such a big event and…I believe that with so many Chinese and Indian people living here, badminton has a great future and I’m looking forward to coming back.”

In the Women’s Singles event, Tai Tzu Ying, the rising star of the female game, capitalized on the absence of World No 1, Li Xuerui, to cruise to victory against Sung Ji Hyun of Korea. There was a defining gulf in class between the two competitors who have had many close battles over this season and Ying attributed her form to the support of her family and Dubai welcome that helped her relax and play her best.

“Dubai has been an amazing experience this week with the world class venue and hospitality,” she said.  

An all-China final closed the competition in the Mixed Doubles category, with World and Olympic champions Zhang and Zhao had no trouble in seeing off younger competition, to win 21-15, 21-12.