Destination Dubai: five talking points from the India Open

The YONEX Sunrise India Open saw a group of players make strong progress towards the season-ending Dubai World Superseries Finals. Will Jones rounds up the action

The second of 12 events in the MetLife BWF World Superseries took place last week, and things are already shaping up on the road to the Dubai World Superseries Finals in December. In advance of this week’s Malaysia Open in Kuching, the next tournament on the journey to Dubai, here are the highlights from the action in New Delhi.

Viktor the victor

The men’s tournament was missing Lee Chong Wei, Jan Jørgensen and Chen Long, the top three players in the BWF World Rankings – leaving Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, the India Open runner-up for the last two years, as the competition’s best-ranked player. The men’s singles champion at the 2016 Dubai World Superseries Finals, the great Dane got the defence of his championship on track by beating Chou Tien-chen to win his first India Open. 

A home triumph

The men’s singles found an echo in the women’s tournament, with two of the world’s top six absent and the final contested by two players who’d suffered quarter-final losses at the All-England Open. Last year, Carolina Marín of Spain beat India’s PV Sindhu in the Olympic women’s singles final. But in New Delhi last week, Sindhu took revenge, beating Marín on home soil to win her first India Open crown and kickstart her bid for glory in Dubai.

Mixing it up

The Chinese mixed doubles pair of Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong didn’t make it past the group stages at the 2016 Dubai World Superseries Finals. Keen to do better in Dubai this year, they’ve made the perfect start: after winning the All-England Open in March, they made it two wins from two Superseries tournaments by edging out the Malaysian pair of Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying in the final.

Malaysia rising

It was a similar story in the men’s doubles. Like Lu and Huang, the Malaysian pair of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo didn’t get past the group stage in Dubai in December. And also like Lu and Huang, they’ve got their season off to a flying start by winning the first two Superseries tournaments en route to Dubai, beating compatriots Angga Pratama and Ricky Karanda Suwardi for the second year in succession.

Big in Japan

The week’s most surprising winners came in a competitive women’s doubles competition. Japanese duo Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto are ranked a relatively lowly No. 13 in the world, and didn’t even make it to the 2016 Dubai World Superseries Finals. However, they were on top form in New Delhi, knocking out top seeds Jung Kyung-eun and Shin Seung-chan of Korea en route to their first ever Superseries title. Dubai beckons.