Call it what you will – a dream, a fairytale, or simply destiny. But there he stood, Lee Cheuk Yiu, unbelieving, absorbing the waves of adulation from his home crowd. He had pulled off a feat at the YONEX-SUNRISE Hong Kong Open 2019 whose parallel would be hard to find in recent years.
With his 16-21 21-10 22-20 defeat of eighth seed Anthony Ginting, Lee Cheuk Yiu became only the second men’s singles player from Hong Kong China to win the Hong Kong Open.
It didn’t appear to matter to the 23-year-old that this was his first major final; that he had in fact been promoted from the qualifying round; that he had played full-tilt – and taken down – classy opponents like Shi Yu Qi, Viktor Axelsen and Kidambi Srikanth on his way to the final.
There were no nerves, no uncertainty, in whatever he did. Any lift in his range was met by a full-blooded smash; the variation was the softer drop that had caught out both Axelsen and Kidambi. Ginting was alert to the threat, was not as easily trapped, and so a crackling contest ensued – both quick-moving, both hard-hitting. Lee was unintimidated and stayed close to his opponent in the opening essay; once he settled in, the smashes were fierce and on target; quicksilver feet found him take the net early; soft touch keeping the shuttle dying over the tape.
Ginting refused to buckle despite trailing for most of the third game, and the best passage of play unfolded with some electric exchanges. The Indonesian caught up at the end, and when Lee rushed the net and blew his shot at 19-all, a collective groan was heard. Had he thrown away his best shot for match point?
But Lee has demonstrated all week a certain immunity in sticky situations. He caught out Ginting on his next return, leaving him scrambling with a trick shot. It was then Ginting’s turn to waver under pressure. Lee had match point, a close exchange ensured, Ginting killed the shuttle but the umpire ruled a fault.
The Indonesian was inconsolable. Lee Cheuk Yiu exploded in celebration. The crowd went wild.
“To win my first Super 500 title is such a great feeling, and that too in front of my home crowd,” said Lee. “I was so lucky. I was in the qualifying round and got into the main draw after someone withdrew. And now I got the title. I’m so fortunate. I want to thank my fans who came to watch me. They cheered me on for every point.”
“That I withstood all the pressure means a lot. I’m very excited to win my first major title.”
Ginting said he wasn’t caught off-guard by his opponent, who until now, hadn’t even played a top-tier final.
“I wasn’t surprised. I prepared well for this match, because I knew he would be confident as he was playing at home. I knew it would be tough. He has his own style. He was very confident, some of his shots were very weird, not usual.”
— BWF (@bwfmedia) November 17, 2019
Pusarla V Sindhu hasn’t had the brightest of seasons after her historic World Championships victory, but the world No.6 is confident that she hasn’t veered off-track.
Following her triumph in Basel in August, Pusarla has fallen in the first or second rounds in four of five tournaments. Pusarla said the World Championships win took time to sink in.
“I was really happy with the way I played the World Championships,” said Pusarla, after her first round victory over Kim Ga Eun at the YONEX-SUNRISE Hong Kong Open 2019 today. “After it was over it took me some time (to settle down), because it was a much-awaited win for me, and it didn’t sink in. I’ve been playing OK, I don’t have much to complain about, that I was mentally low or anything.
“Even though I had a few losses, it will just make me much more stronger and I think that I need to come back again and work harder. It was a wonderful month in August at the World Championships. After that it was OK. These things happen.”
Pusarla has been in the limelight in India since at least 2013, but her popularity hit the stratosphere during the Rio Olympics, when she made the final.
Having suffered setbacks at the ultimate step in the Olympics and other major finals, including two World Championships, the Asian Games and the Superseries Finals, things finally turned her way with the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals crown last December.
With the bogey off her back, Pusarla hit the high notes in Basel, steamrolling Nozomi Okuhara for the gold.
She acknowledges the reverses she has suffered since then, but insists her training has been on schedule.
“Those things (felicitations) will be there but I don’t have much to complain about. I think I will enjoy it as it comes. I give importance to training. I’m in the limelight because of this. A lot of people look up to me for motivation. After Rio it’s been completely different. Indian badminton – women and men, and even doubles – has been growing really well.
“I’ve been training, I want to be fit as this is an Olympic year. Mistakes happen, but fitness-wise things have been fine,” she adds, somewhat enigmatically.
One blow was the exit of her coach Kim Ji Hyun immediately after the World Championships due to personal reasons. Pusarla doesn’t delve too deeply into whether her coach’s exit affected her.
“I mean, it’s fine, you know. At the end of the day you need to work hard for yourself. Every coach has a different mindset. Park (Tae Sang) has been helping me out. It’s been good for me so far.”
Around the corner is the World Tour Finals, which she will be defending. “It’s going to be good,” Pusarla says. “You never know what can happen, whoever plays well on that day will win. Against the top eight players, every point will be important.”
Not for Lauren Lam the conventional process of climbing up the ladder from junior level to the seniors. The USA left-hander, just 16 years old, has vaulted straight into the tiger pen, as it were, confident that exposure to top-level badminton would provide a surer route towards excellence.
Among the big decisions she had to take was giving up conventional school in favour of online lessons, helping her dedicate time to her training as a badminton professional.
Lam, who qualified to the main draw of the YONEX-SUNRISE Hong Kong Open 2019 today, isn’t a regular on the junior circuit despite being just 16. She last played the World Junior Championships in 2017, and says skipping the subsequent World Junior Championships was a conscious decision to enable her to sharpen her game against higher-quality opponents.
“I didn’t play the World Juniors (in 2018 and 2019) because I only wanted to train, and I thought I’m still 16, and if I skip these two years and just train to play international level, I can play the World Juniors again when I’m 19. When I play older players I tend to build more confidence. When I play higher tournaments, I have no pressure, I have nothing to lose. I tend to be happier when I play bigger tournaments.”
It was a “big decision”, she says, to give up conventional school, and opt for online lessons instead. Her parents have backed her dreams of a career as a badminton professional.
“My mom and dad pay for everything,” she says, somewhat wistfully. “So when I go to a certain tournament, I go all out, I do my best. I took a really big decision this year to do online school. It was a hard decision but I wanted to go for my dreams. I study online while I’m travelling.
“I had to drop out of public school because it was hard being in class every day rather than training. So my parents were like, ‘why don’t you do online schooling, it’s a more flexible schedule?’”
It was Lam’s victory at the Pan Am Junior Championships in 2017 that helped her make up her mind on the value of competing at higher level tournaments. “When I won the 2017 Pan Am Juniors, since I’d reached a high bar for juniors, I thought: ‘adults next’.”
Instead of staying the course in the juniors as most of her peers would have done, over the course of 2018, she started pitching at a higher level – she played main draws of the US Open, Malaysia Open, Spain Masters, Chinese Taipei Open, Macau Open and Korea Masters. This year she played the Singapore Open, US Open, Akita Masters and the Vietnam Open, among others. And while she has often fallen at the first hurdle, she believes the experience that she gains will help her evolve much more quickly.
“I’m just looking for experience this year,” she says.
“I really look up to Beiwen. She’s like a big thing in my life,” says Lam. “She helps me, she’s willing to train with me. And Michelle’s a very nice person, very easy going. I look up to her as well. They motivate me.
Lam’s emotional celebration at the end of her qualifying round win showed how much the win meant to her. After all, it was the first time she had won a qualifying round match to enter the main draw of a Super 500 tournament.
“I’ve loved badminton all my life, and I love being in a big stadium… I’m just 16, so it’s nerve-wracking when I beat someone older than me. It feels nice, actually.”
World No.6 Viktor Axelsen backed the idea of professional players setting up their independent training bases, calling it “healthy” for the sport.
Axelsen is one of the few top players to have experimented working outside of his national training centre – albeit temporarily – when he set up a training base in Dubai for a few weeks earlier this year.
The move to Dubai in June was to alleviate his asthma which had flared up in Denmark. He invited two young Danish players from Skovshoved to train with him at NAS Sports Complex. The shift to Dubai, he said at the time, had alleviated his condition and helped him train at a high intensity.
Although he said he was now back with the Danish national centre in Copenhagen, Axelsen indicated the stint in Dubai had worked in his favour.
“I’m really fortunate that I got the opportunity to practice at NAS Centre in Dubai where the facilities are awesome, and I’m really happy to be there from time to time,” said the Dane. “So I’m thankful for that. I think it’s healthy, both mentally and physically, to sort of get into a new environment and only focus on badminton.”
Despite his praise for the stint in Dubai, Axelsen refused to spell out his long-term plans, only stating that he would train on and off in Dubai. “Sometimes I’m in Dubai for training, but I’m still based in Copenhagen,” he said.
The Dane has had an injury-troubled season. A persistent pain in his leg forced him to skip the Indonesia Open, the Japan Open and the World Championships between July and August. He made his comeback at the VICTOR China Open in September, losing in the first round, but has steadily gained ground since then, making the second round the following week in Korea, and the semifinals on consecutive weeks in Denmark and France.
“I think it’s about finding the momentum in competition games and I struggled a bit with that in the first two tournaments,” said Axelsen. “But I’m back and I’m feeling as I did before, mentally, when I go on court, so I’m happy about that.”
Axelsen, who was in the China Open final in 2017, progressed to the quarterfinals today beating India’s Parupalli Kashyap.
Valeska Knoblauch of Germany will be one to watch at the Japan Para Badminton International next week, as the badminton fraternity gathers in Tokyo for a tournament that serves as the test event for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Knoblauch who was women’s singles world No.1 in the wheelchair (WH1) category until August 2019, dropped to second spot after a quarterfinal loss to China’s Yin Menglu at the TOTAL BWF Para Badminton World Championships 2019 in Basel, Switzerland.
“I should have been more calm and relaxed but I was too nervous and didn’t focus on my strengths nor on my game plan. I think I was just too tense,” she said about that match.
But it’s not Yin that she cites as a threat. “It’s Sarina Satomi.”
According to Knoblauch, Japan’s Satomi, the WH1 world champion is the toughest challenge in singles.
“She has had consistently good results in her latest tournaments and is rightly the world champion as she is already a very complete player regarding her abilities,” she explained.
However, Knoblauch is not without her strengths and accomplishments.
Although Knoblauch lost to Satomi in the finals of the Thailand Para Badminton International in September, she defeated her a week later at the China Para Badminton International and went on to win that tournament in the final against Yin Menglu.
In 2018, she defeated Karen Suter-Erath of Switzerland to be crowned European Champion. Since then, she’s risen through the ranks and has claimed her place among the top women wheelchair athletes. Knoblauch also plays women’s doubles with Elke Rongen and in the mixed doubles she partners Young-Chin Mi.
A rather huge feat for someone who never imagined she would one day be a world-class athlete.
“Becoming the world No.1 and now having the opportunity to play in the very first Paralympics is a very big deal to me. I doubt I would have ever experienced this if I had been a person without a disability,” said Knoblauch, who is currently second in the Race To Tokyo rankings.
Knoblacuh was 14 when while at school she jumped up to sit on the classroom window sill with her friends. Not realising the window was open, she leaned back and fell out, landing on her spine.
“My spine broke and I was paraplegic,” she said.
Overcoming her disability with the support of her family and friends, Knoblauch bounced back into daily life. After several months in hospital and rehabilitation, she went back to school and when she was 18 she started playing badminton. She hasn’t looked back since.
“Before the accident, I loved to dance but dancing in a wheelchair was never an option for me. I tried basketball and table tennis in rehabilitation but it didn’t ‘catch me’ like badminton. Badminton I just liked from the beginning. It was also the people I started with who made me like it a lot. I like the challenge of controlling the wheelchair and the racket,” she explained.
Life is not all about badminton though. Knoblauch is a psychology student at the Universität zu Köln in Cologne, Germany and has ambitions to become a psychotherapist.
Encouraged by a psychologist who helped her overcome the fact that she would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life, she believes she too can help others in similar situations as her. Her studies have also helped her to become a better athlete.
“We don’t study sport psychology at university but I think I understand mental coaching differently than others because I have a more comprehensive understanding of cognitive processes,” she explained.
While Knoblauch’s chosen sport does require such precise mental skills, she claims her strength is her physical power, which puts her opponents under pressure.
Since the European Championships 2018, Knoblauch and her teammates have been training together under a national coach who also travels with the German Para badminton team to tournaments.
“The coach spots our weaknesses, then we work on that when we’re back in Germany. We also have more on and off-court training than before such as strength training and endurance. And the Olympic Training Centre in my hometown offers us physiotherapy, nutrition counselling and mental training.” All that she needs in preparing for Tokyo 2020.
Knoblauch’s physical and psychological might will be tested next week at the Japan Para Badminton International as she can expect to face local sweetheart Satomi, as well as Thailand’s Sujirat Phookham who has recently returned to the circuit after recovering from an injury.
Knoblauch, however, also looks forward to the atmosphere that extends beyond competition.
“We go to compete and win but we’re also friends. We look forward to meeting at each tournament, to catch up on each other’s lives because we’ve all known each other a long time. It’s very special atmosphere and I’m honoured to be a part of it. And it’s so much fun as well.”
Rankireddy and Shetty are the only Indian men’s doubles pair to break into the top 10 – they were ranked No.9 for a week after they won the Thailand Open in early August – but then slipped down slightly following their inability to compete at the TOTAL BWF World Championships due to fitness concerns.
After early exits in China, Korea and Denmark, the Indians stunned the field in Paris last week, beating world champions Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan in the second round, Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in the quarterfinals and Asian champions Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe in the semifinals, before going down to Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in a well-contested final.
“It’s a happy feeling,” said Shetty. “We broke into the top 10 after winning the Thailand Open but we were there only for a week. Our aim now is to maintain our top 10 ranking till the end of this year and get into the top 5 next year.”
No other Indian men’s doubles pair, since the advent of computerised rankings in the early 1980s, has broken into the top 10. (In the early 1950s, Indian Thomas Cuppers Monoj Guha and Gajanan Hemmady were recognised as one of the world’s best combinations – but that era bears little resemblance to the contemporary one.)
In more recent times a few Indian pairs have come close to making the top 10. Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Attri were ranked No.17 in 2016, while the now-retired duo of Rupesh Kumar/Sanave Thomas were ranked No.13.
However, Rankireddy and Shetty have ventured into territory no Indian pair before them has – winning a World Tour Super 500 event (Thailand Open), and beating nearly every other top pair, with the exception of Gideon/Sukamuljo and Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda.
“We’ve grown up watching Ahsan and Setiawan, so going on to beat them was good,” said Shetty, speaking of their second round win. “We took them to three games the first time we played; this time we were used to them and we weren’t intimidated.”
As for the ‘Minions’, Shetty said they had faltered at the end of the closely-fought first game. “The things we are good at, they are also good at. We’re able to play a lot better when Kevin is not at his best. He’s difficult because he plays from positions that you won’t expect the shuttle to come back. We were close in the first game, we were 17-all, and then we made some mistakes. Against pairs like those, you can’t afford to make any mistakes.”
There was little movement elsewhere in the top 10 of the latest rankings.
In women’s doubles, French Open runners-up Kim So Yeong/Kong Hee Yong traded places with Indonesia’s Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu – the Koreans climbing to No.6 and the Indonesians dropping to No.8, while in mixed doubles, Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock climbed two spots to No.11.
Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti, who won back-to-back events in Denmark and France, held on to their No.5 spot, behind Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong, Wang Yi Lyu/Huang Dong Ping, Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino and Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai.
Two men’s singles stars return to action at the Macau Open 2019 after injury lay-offs.
China’s Shi Yu Qi and Korea’s Son Wan Ho head the opposite ends of the men’s singles draw at the Macau Open that begins today. They will hope to make up for lost time and opportunities for Olympic qualification – Shi is currently ranked No.54 in the Race to Tokyo standings, while Son has yet to play a tournament since the qualifying period began on 29 April 2019.
Shi suffered an ankle injury at the BLIBLI Indonesia Open in July and did make a comeback at the VICTOR China Open in September, but he was far from fully fit, and lasted just 15 minutes in a first round rout by compatriot Lu Guang Zu. Macau should see him better prepared. The top seed will take on Frenchman Lucas Claerbout in the opening round.
Son ruptured his Achilles tendon while playing a domestic tournament in March. His last event on the circuit was the YONEX All England, where he retired in the opening round against Kenta Nishimoto while trailing 23-21 14-5, reportedly due to lower back problems. Subsequently, during a tie at the Spring Team Championships in Miryang, Korea, he was injured while playing Lee Hyun Il.
Son’s first round opponent in Macau will be Chinese Taipei’s Lu Chia Hung.
Both Shi and Son had title wins this year before their injuries. Shi won the Swiss Open and guided his team to the Sudirman Cup win at home over Japan, while Son won the Malaysia Masters in January.
The Macau Open, a World Tour Super 300 event, will offer them a good test. Shi has Youth Olympic Games champion Li Shi Feng and three-time World Junior champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn in his half, while Son might have to contend with the likes of Liew Daren, Wong Wing Ki and Brice Leverdez.
Meanwhile, YONEX Chinese Taipei Open winner Sung Ji Hyun, who has also had some injury trouble this year, returns to court after retiring from her second round match at the DANISA Denmark Open against Beiwen Zhang. Sung, seeded second, faces young Chinese Wang Zhi Yi, while top seed Michelle Li takes on Kim Hyo Min in the opening round.
The BWF World Junior Championships offers a peak into the sport’s next generation. While not all of those who do well at the junior level make a successful transition to the elite level, there have been several who, as juniors, seemed destined for success in their senior career.
Here are some of the names from the recently-concluded BWF World Junior Championships 2019 who stood out.
Gunji’s resemblance to Akane Yamaguchi – physically and in playing style – is startling. Gunji, 17, idolises Yamaguchi; in Kazan she took the first step towards emulating her idol when she won the women’s singles title. Incidentally, it was her first title after two runner-up finishes. She was unbeaten in Kazan, guiding Japan into the semifinals of the team event, before picking up her country’s sole title in the individual competition.
Jamil has a great record at the junior level, winning the World Juniors last year and the Asian Juniors this year. Her defence of the title in Kazan with Leo Rolly Carnando came unstuck in the final this time, but Jamil is on the radar for Indonesia as one of their brightest mixed doubles prospects. Sound skills at the front combined with calmness under pressure are great signs. At the moment, she does seem to have a lot going for her before her vault into a higher league.
Played a stellar role for China in Kazan. Lin and mixed doubles partner Feng Yan Zhe guided China to the final, not dropping a game on the way. In the individual event, Lin did double duty; Lin and Feng surprised defending champions Carnando/Jamil in the mixed doubles final before she and Zhou Xin Ru captured the women’s doubles crown. Ling has had a good year, reaching eight finals and winning four. Interestingly, her idol is not a doubles but a singles player – Lin Dan.
The Thai was expected to win his third title and he did, dropping only one game on the way. His coach Udom believes he has everything he needs to excel at the elite level, particularly in shot-making, netplay and variations; speed and fitness are areas he has to work on. Has had a spectacular season, winning seven tournaments including the Polish Open and the Spanish International.
Europe didn’t have a particularly memorable World Junior Championships. There was European presence in only two quarterfinals in the individual championships. Europe however could take some solace from the performance of France’s Christo Popov. The left-hander seemed to get better and better with every match, riding on his adrenalin to quell one tough opponent after another. The intensity of his play and his celebrations got the crowd behind him, and although he fell to Vitidsarn tamely in the final, his performance bodes well for the future.
The Indonesians were a cut above the rest at the World Juniors; with four titles this year, they have the results to show for their undoubted abilities. Carnando’s skills evoke comparisons with Kevin Sanjaya’s, while Daniel Marthin complements him well with his power game from the back. Whether they can live up to all the hype remains to be seen.
Pan Am’s brightest hope and currently No.2 in the world. Has already played 19 tournaments this year, and has some good results to show, including titles in Canada and Peru, runner-up spots in Germany and Brazil, and a semifinal at the Dutch Junior International. Can he follow in the footsteps of senior compatriot Michelle Li, who has blazed a trail in women’s singles for Canada?
The Russia got the crowd buzzing with her performance in the women’s singles. She surprised top seed Phittayaporn Chaiwan in the opening game of their fourth round match but remained combative, eventually going down in three. Just 17, Shapovalova uses her height well in hitting steep smashes. She has had a promising season, reaching the semifinals of the Swedish Junior, winning the Russian Junior White Nights, and making the final of the Bulgarian Junior International. Russian fans will hope to see her break new ground.
The young Chinese pair couldn’t have asked for a better start against the world’s best pair, as they took the Minions to three games in the opening round of the French Open. At the World Juniors they blitzed their opponents in straight games before falling to Carnando/Marthin in the final. Semifinalists at the Lingshui China Masters, Di and Wang appear to have already made inroads into the senior level.
Kidambi Srikanth assures himself that things will turn around; that staying injury-free and working hard are key to recapturing the peak that he once occupied.
It’s a sentiment he often expresses; it’s a response he offers spontaneously to questions on form.
From a heady time of winning titles breezily, to struggling to stitch up a sequence of wins, the Indian has witnessed first-hand the vagaries of form.
But what, really, is form?
What is its relationship with fitness, with confidence, with technical adaptability, and with coaching? Kidambi is having to confront these questions at a fundamental level.
The reference year for the Indian is 2017, when he won four Superseries out of five finals and rose to world No.1 on the back of those successes. The following two seasons however saw a steep fall – in the 24 events he played in 2018 and so far in 2019, he exited at the quarterfinals stage or earlier in 21; ten of those being first or second-round losses.
At the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019 his struggles were manifest against opponents like Nhat Nguyen and Misha Zilberman, before he fell in rather lacklustre fashion to Thai 20-year-old Kantaphon Wangchaoren.
“It’s not like I’m playing badly,” Kidambi offered, after the Zilberman match. “The opponents really are playing a level higher. For them (lower-ranked opponents), it’s a big event, there’s not much to lose, so they play their heart out.”
It was his way of rationalising what would have seemed below-par performances when he was at his peak. There are many underlying aspects to form – and Srikanth has had to field questions on several of them, particularly on his self-belief.
“I definitely cannot say it’s a confidence issue, but if I keep winning some matches continuously, I’ll definitely get that confidence back,” says Kidambi, contradicting himself somewhat. “It’s definitely a matter of time. It’s nothing other than that. The moment you start winning some matches, you automatically gain that confidence and you feel you’re on top of the world, and you end up playing so well that you never even imagine.”
For Kidambi, his slide from No.1 to No.10 is mainly about the injuries that cropped up from time to time, which he says prevented him from establishing winning momentum.
“In the last eight to ten months, I haven’t been able to train for a longer period, I was getting injured and then coming back and training for a week or two and then playing a tournament, and then I’m pushing too much at tournaments and injuring myself again. I want to go back and train for a longer period, and I think if I can do that from now, for the next 12 months, I will be in good shape for the Olympics.”
A recurring question has been the shift of the Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo from India to Singapore; his exit coincided with Srikanth’s dipping fortunes.
Kidambi responds by pointing to the performance of Singapore’s singles shuttlers, two of whom did capture attention at the Worlds – Yeo Jia Min, who upset Akane Yamaguchi, and Loh Kean Yew, who nearly did the same against Chou Tien Chen.
“I think Mulyo definitely made a lot of changes; it’s just not me, the others also performed really well in 2017 and you know, he definitely has something in him. If you see the Singapore players, they are doing well, like Loh Kean Yew, and Yeo Jia Min beating Yamaguchi, it’s not an easy thing. He’s definitely done that.
“I think he has that in him, he’s definitely made the change the moment he went to Singapore… We also have a Korean coach who’s doing really well. Personally, the issue is with me, it’s not with the coach for now. It’s more about playing continuously, training continuously.”
Is Kidambi’s dilemma on form therefore a classic chicken-and-egg situation – that he can’t build confidence without getting great results, and he can’t get great results if his confidence isn’t high?
He sounds certain on what he has to address.
“It’s about getting physically 100 per cent, about training really hard, that’s what matters for me now. I’m really not in a hurry to do it, I’m looking at the Olympics as a target, peaking at the Olympics, so it’s about gradually increasing the load.”
The nostalgia about 2017 is there, but he acknowledges he has to move on.
“People have moved on from there, people have improved from 2017, it’s been two years, and everyone might have moved a level higher. But for me, I might be playing at that same level. If I can train well and move a level higher, I will get there.”
The top eight qualifiers at the end of the season will be invited to the finale in Guangzhou in December.
Christie, who beat Indonesian compatriot Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in the CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2019 final, trails top-ranked Viktor Axelsen by 7,400 points midway through the season. Axelsen has had a good year so far, having won the Spain Masters and the India Open as well as finishing runner-up at the All England, and being a semifinalist at three other events.
Ginting – runner-up in Singapore and Australia – is at No.5, followed by Kidambi Srikanth, who was quarterfinalist in five of his six tournaments.
The biggest mover in Australia was Wang Tzu Wei, whose semifinal finish saw him jump five places to No.8, just ahead of HSBC BWF World Tour Finals champion Shi Yu Qi, who has played only five World Tour events so far. Shi won the Swiss Open and was semifinalist at the All England and the Malaysia Open.
In tenth place is Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia, who has gained from being in five quarterfinals out of nine tournaments.
Prominent names who aren’t yet in the top ten are Anders Antonsen (No.15) – winner of the Indonesia Masters; Chou Tien Chen (No.22), who has yet to win a tournament this year, and Sameer Verma (No.30).
Leading the rankings is Ratchanok Intanon, who has played double the number of events Tai has. Intanon, winner of the Malaysia Masters and the India Open, has 48,380 points, compared to Tai’s 35,440.
Japan’s women’s singles spearheads Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi follow in second and third place. Okuhara has had a consistent year with back-to-back finals in Singapore and Australia, after consecutive semifinals in Germany, England and Malaysia.
— BWF (@bwfmedia) June 9, 2019
Yamaguchi, winner of the German Open, has also been steady, featuring in the Malaysia Open final and semifinals at the All England, Singapore Open and New Zealand Open.
Chen Yu Fei, who is on a hot streak of wins having claimed the All England, the Swiss Open and the Australian Open, is in fourth spot, just ahead of Tai.
Busanan Ongbamrungphan (No.6), runner-up at the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters; Sung Ji Hyun (No.7), semifinalist at the Swiss Open; and Li Xue Rui (No.8), runner-up in New Zealand, are behind Tai.
In ninth place is Fitriani Fitriani and in tenth is He Bing Jiao, who has played just five events this year, with her best being a runner-up spot in India.
USA’s Beiwen Zhang, India’s Saina Nehwal and Pusarla V Sindhu, Japan’s Aya Ohori, and Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt are all outside the top 10 at the moment.
The recently-concluded TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2019 was a roller-coaster ride for reputations. Several stars, expected to take their teams to glory, fizzled out during the week. There were also a few others who rose to the occasion when the situation demanded it. Here we look at the prominent names:
Those Who Sizzled
Continued to build on his reputation as a big-match player. The manner in which he handed a pasting to Kento Momota in the final was stunning to watch – a near-replica of the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals in December. Won his three matches with ease – over Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia in Group 1D and Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen in the semi-finals.
Were unshakeable despite being in trouble in their opening match against Malaysia’s Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik. Recovered from match point down to beat the Malaysians, and then destroyed their three following challengers – Denmark’s Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen; Thailand’s Tinn Isriyanet/Kittinupong Kedren, and Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe. The Japanese were expected to stretch Li/Liu in the final, but after first game trouble, the world champions crushed their rivals to hand the advantage in the final to China.
The 17-year-old came into the Sudirman Cup as a potential star, having won the New Zealand Open, and returned with reputation enhanced. With her sensational upset of No.1 Tai Tzu Ying, which helped Korea top Group 1C, and close loss to Ratchanok Intanon, An did enough to suggest she could be the face of the future of women’s singles badminton.
The ‘Minions’ went into the Sudirman Cup in unconvincing form, but admirably led Indonesia into the semifinals. Won their three matches in straight games, including the semifinal over Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda, on which Indonesia were unable to capitalise.
Despite struggling with injury, Canada’s singles spearhead guided her team to the top of Group 2. Prevailed in a contentious Group 2B match against Germany’s Yvonne Li that set Canada on to victory over difficult opponents, and in the Group 2 final against France, easily beat Yaelle Hoyaux to come away with three wins out of three.
The 18-year-old had a busy week for Ireland, playing two categories and winning all but one of his eight matches. Nguyen nearly led his team to Group 3 victory, but, having won his singles, surprisingly lost his men’s doubles (with Sam Magee) to Sachin Dias and Buwaneka Goonethilleka. Ireland had to be content with second place in Group 3 (overall 22nd), but Nguyen would have returned pleased with his contribution.
…and Those Who Fizzled
The world No.1 hasn’t had the best of seasons, but was expected to lead Chinese Taipei to a possible semifinal, their first in history. However, Tai was woefully off-colour, struggling against Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi and losing to An Se Young, before making it past an equally disappointing Gregoria Mariska Tunjung. Despite her win, Chinese Taipei fell 2-3 to Indonesia.
Indonesia sported big names in singles, which was expected to buttress their doubles strength and give them a shot at the title. But it all went wrong in the singles, with Anthony Ginting losing two of his three matches, and neither Jonatan Christie or Gregoria Mariska Tunjung able to step up. Ginting was unable to inspire himself to his normal level in losses to Viktor Axelsen (Denmark beat Indonesia 3-2) and against Kento Momota in the semifinals.
India were reckoned to have a strong team capable of going far in the tournament, but the Indians turned out to be underwhelming. Kidambi Srikanth didn’t take the court citing fitness concerns, and Sameer Verma took his place. Saina Nehwal, not fully fit, played one match – against China’s Chen Yufei – and she was routed in 33 minutes, which more or less summed up India’s campaign.
在决赛中，他以16-21 21-10 22-20战胜了8号种子金汀，李卓耀成为了仅有的第二个赢得香港公开赛的来自中国香港的男单球员。
— BWF (@bwfmedia) November 17, 2019
陈雨菲在整个第二局和第三局的开局阶段看起来似乎失去了夺冠的可能，意想不到的是，她后来又慢慢找回了手感，提高了速度，重拾击败因达农的动力，最后她以21-18 13-21 21-13赢得了比赛。
Japan’s Yuma Yamazaki and Sarina Satomi ended the year on a high note and made up for their losses in their respective singles events to take the women’s doubles Wheelchair (WH1-WH2) gold medal.
It may have taken them close to an hour but it was well worth it as they beat their Chinese opponents, Liu Yutong and Yin Menglu, 14-21 25-23 21-15 in a match of wits, skills and plenty of emotions as the curtain came down on the HULIC DAIHATSU Japan Para Badminton International 2019.
“This is an important win for us which will lead us into the Paralympics in this same venue next year,” said Yamazaki.
“I’m happy but it took a combined strategy to get this because our usual rotation style alone would not have worked against the Chinese team who are very fast,” said Satomi.
The women’s Wheelchair (WH1) singles was won by Sujirat Pookkham of Thailand, after she defeated China’s Yin Menglu, 21-17 21-7.
“Yesterday, I felt some discomfort in my right arm which was injured some time ago and I thought it wouldn’t be good but I told myself to relax and just play my game.
“Yin has lost to me in all our meets and she’s still young. She may not yet have the confidence to feel like she can beat me,” said the 33-year-old Pookkham.
It was an all-China affair in the women’s WH2 singles with 15-year-old world champion Liu Yutong taking the gold 21-15 21-15 over Xu Tingting.
It is Now 4-3 to Kim
Korea’s Kim Jungjun and Hong Kong China’s Chan Ho Yuen went at it again in their usual finals match-up in men’s singles WH2, with Kim emerging the victor in Tokyo.
“This is our seventh battle and we always get to the finals. This year was 3-3 and now he’s one up because he played better,” said Chan.
“I’m a little frustrated because I took the lead until the interval and then lost points. The shuttle is fast and I am powerful so if I hit with my usual strength, it goes out.
“Comparatively, Kim has such precise shots and good control of the shuttle even when it is fast. I’ll just have to start training with faster shuttles, learn to control my shots and I’ll get him next time,” he added.
Kim’s celebrations were cut short as he and Lee Dong Seop of Korea lost the men’s doubles (WH1-WH2) to China’s Qu Zimo and Mai Jianpeng,
It was a near-exact repeat of the World Championships 2019 final, in which China aimed most of their attack to Lee.
“The WH1 player [Qu] is highly energetic. Very fast and we couldn’t keep up,” said Kim.
Qu also won his men’s singles against another Korean, Choi Jung Man, 21-10 21-16.
“At 14-16 when my opponent caught up, I think I was fortunate to be able to get the two points and take over and beat him,” said 18-year-old Qu, who remains undefeated in the men’s singles and doubles since he won both world titles in August this year.
The Koreans, who were in their first major final, survived a torrid opening spell to eventually haul past the world champions, 13-21 21-12 21-13.
Through the early part of the match it appeared the ‘Daddies’ would run through their opponents. The Koreans were left stranded on most rallies with Ahsan and Setiawan excelling in the quick exchanges.
Things turned in the second; the Koreans were able to open up the game rather than be caught in their opponents’ constricting style. On the other hand, the Indonesians, against the run of play, committed a succession of errors. Setiawan first, and then Ahsan, blew winning shots into the net, helping the Koreans revive their morale. Choi turned into a menacing presence at the front, while Seo was able to clip winners when the shuttle was lifted high.
Ahsan and Setiawan briefly recovered in the decider, but they never could get a grip on the match. Ahsan was particularly wayward; the day was summed up for the Daddies when Setiawan played a weak shot into the net match point down.
“This is our first big title and we are very happy,” said Choi. “The opening game was embarrassing for us because they controlled the net exchanges so well. We were able to overcome that and get ahead. This means a lot, but first we will have to get ready for the Korea Masters next week at home.”
Setiawan, explaining the ununsual sequence of errors by the Indonesians, said the physical effort had taken its toll.
“Our stamina must have decreased, it was most apparent in the second and third games. Our opponents didn’t give up. They found their game, their defence was tight,” Setiawan said.
Relief for Watanabe/Higashino
The fourth seeds pulled off an impressive escape against China’s He Ji Ting/Du Yue from 12-17 down to take the opening game, and pressed on from there to wrap it up 22-20 21-16.
Chen/Jia Are Champs
There were some sensational rallies that earned prolonged applause from the crowd. The Koreans battled on even terms until 13-all in the deciding game, after which the Koreans slipped just that little bit and the Chinese pounced on the opening to complete their victory for their fifth title of the year.
— BWF (@bwfmedia) November 18, 2019
It was Chen’s second title in two weeks following her Fuzhou China Open triumph last Sunday.
Chen looked worn out in the second game and early in the third, but found her second wind, pushing the pace and taking the initiative against Intanon, and closing out the match 21-18 13-21 21-13.
After her semifinal win yesterday, the Thai had predicted that Chen was likely to feel the physical effects of her extended run in China and Hong Kong. Through the opening game, Chen had to work hard, running to all corners to keep going in the face of Intanon’s wizardry.
The Chinese slowed down noticeably as the match progressed, and perhaps Intanon would have anticipated a weakening of her opponent’s resolve.
That was not to be, for Chen, after trailing by a bit early in the third, stepped up her game. Intanon had the variety and the sharper strokes, but Chen had the legs to last the distance, and it was the Thai who was left flagging from the effort.
“I’m very happy because I faced a lot of difficulties during the match but I could overcome them and that is progress,” said the champion.
“I tried not to think of my record against her. I just had to be prepared for a difficult match. I’m happy that I’ve been very stable this year, which is an improvement over my past seasons. I do have some regrets, such as my performance at the World Championships, but there will be opportunities in future.”
Intanon said Chen had outplayed her mentally.
“I thought she was down and getting slow, but she kept going and I didn’t prepare well during my serve and she pushed me,” said Intanon. “I was thinking a lot and not point by point. I made too many mistakes on her high lifts. At times I didn’t feel comfortable, she had me in two minds about the shots I had to play.
“She maintained her energy and also I could not control my shots well in the third game. She kept up a high speed.”
Highlights | Chen Yu Fei 🇨🇳 maintains a steady performance in the deciding game over Ratchanok Intanon 🇹🇭 to be crowned champion at the YONEX-SUNRISE Hong Kong Open🏸#HSBCBWFbadminton #HSBCRacetoGuangzhou pic.twitter.com/wIUvLbPOAH
— BWF (@bwfmedia) November 17, 2019
England’s Daniel Bethell stole the limelight at the HULIC DAIHATSU Japan Para Badminton International when he beat world champion Pramod Bhagat of India in the men’s Standing Lower (SL3) singles finals, 21-16 21-19.
“I went in with a good game plan, stuck to it and played a solid game. This win is something I can get off my chest, to beat the world champion,” said Bethell, who has lost the last three times he met Bhagat in a final.
This time, however, Bethell was ready for Bhagat who is especially strong when he has to fight back from being down a few points.
“I knew he’d do that so I had to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes. On a half court, it’s easy to make mistakes and unforced errors can decide a match,” Bethell added.
Pramod conceded: “I made a lot of mistakes in the first game when it should have been easy for me. In the second, he played really well and I tried to fight back but he’s just at a different level now.”
Bethell’s teammate Krysten Coombs was less successful, falling to India’s Krishna Nagar in the men’s Short Stature (SH6) singles finals.
“I just couldn’t get going. I’d be in the right spot and then I’d lose the points, and he’d come back. Like I said before, there are a few of us who are so evenly matched, and you never know how it’s going to go,” said Coombs.
Nagar struggled to get into the first game, allowing Coombs to equalise at 18-18 and win 22-20. In the second and third, Nagar seemed to turn on the turbo boosters and won 21-17 21-12.
“It’s a big tournament and an important win because it gives me a chance to play in this venue where the Paralympics will be held next near.
“I knew I lost the first when he took over and I was very negative in the last few points but I had my coach’s guidance and that gave me the confidence to fight back,” said Nagar.
Taking Back the Reigns
Japan’s Ayako Suzuki avenged her women’s Standing Upper (SU5) singles loss at the World Championships earlier this year in Basel when she sent China’s Yang Qiuxia packing, 21-19 22-20, to take the gold medal.
“I came to this match knowing there will be long rallies and I was prepared for her. My strategy to shorten the rallies and kill the shot as quickly as possible worked,” said Suzuki.
This win cements Suzuki’s current position at No.1 in the world and the Race to Tokyo rankings, and puts her further ahead of Yang, her nearest contender who is in second place.
In the men’s Standing Upper (SU5) singles final, Malaysia’s Cheah Liek Hou was a picture of strength and confidence when he took out Indonesia’s Suryo Nugroho, 21-16, 21-17.
“It’s a great ending to the year and it helps me build confidence leading up to the Paralympics,” said Cheah, who’s aim is to claim back the glory of his days dominating SU5.
Cheah, who has six singles and doubles BWF Para Badminton World Championships titles to his name, has had a slow year trying to keep up with the younger, more agile athletes like Nugroho and 2019 world champion Dheva Anrimusthi of Indonesia.
“Dheva has always been my obstacle but since he’s not here, I knew it was my chance. With my new training, I’m able to strategise better and I knew that with Suryo I had to attack from the start. If I had allowed the game to slow down, he’d have an advantage and take the points.”
Cheah is now playing a faster, highly-skilled game since coming under the tutelage of coach Rashid Sidek, bronze medallist in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
“I practically begged Rashid to coach me and we started working together in June this year. There’s still so much I need to work on and to improve, but I’ll get there in time for the Paralympics,” he added.
Lucas Mazur of France went home with two gold medals; the men’s Standing Lower (SL4) singles and mixed doubles SL3-SU5 with partner Faustine Noel.
Noel and Mazur overpowered the very determined Turkish pair of Iiker Tuzcu ad Halime Yildiz 21-16 21-15, while in the singles Mazur beat Thailand’s Siripong Teammarom, 21-9 21-8.
“There are two parts to being here. To win and to test the conditions in this venue for the Paralympics. We don’t always get the opportunity to play in such a big venue,” said Noel.
“Lucas is always strong and I’m very focused under pressure, so it works. I think I served well today and I usually play well at the net. I’ve been steadily improving and there are still a few months left [before the Paralympics] so I plan to continue this process.”
China’s Cheng Hefang also made it to the top of the podium twice.
She took the women’s SL4 singles title after beating Japan’s Haruka Fujino 21-11 21-12 and went on to win the women’s doubles SL3-SU5 doubles with Ma Huihui against Japan’s Ayako Suzuki and Noriko Ito.
What a week it has been for Lee Cheuk Yiu!
The 23-year-old authored another sensational upset today, beating Kidambi Srikanth for a place in the men’s singles final of the YONEX-SUNRISE Hong Kong Open 2019, the furthest he has gone at a major tournament.
It wasn’t just the result, but the manner of it, that left spectators giving him a standing ovation for several minutes after the match.
For a start, he was the definite underdog against a vastly more experienced opponent with several titles under his belt. As it turned out, it was Kidambi who wilted on the big stage, while the local lad just kept going even when the second game appeared tantalisingly out of reach.
The most intense drama unfolded at the end of the second game. Kidambi led 20-15; Lee saved all five game points. Twice more the Indian went ahead, only to be denied by his stubborn opponent. On the 42nd minute, Lee found the winning shot – 21-9 25-23 – which made him the second Hong Kong China men’s singles player since Ng Ka Long Angus in 2016 to enter the final of the tournament. Angus had gone on to win the title; whether Lee can follow him on the roster of champions remains to be seen.
The match had started on the best possible note for the Hong Kong China lad. He was up 10-1 in a trice, and from there for Kidambi it was a battle with his back to the wall. To his discomfiture, the same weapons that had bothered Axelsen in the quarterfinals did the damage – a loopy crosscourt drop that fell just clearing the net; a disguised slow drop that was used interchangeably with his full-blooded hits. Kidambi often found himself stranded.
“I was nervous going into the match, but when I saw that I was up 10-1, I realised he was even more nervous than me,” said Lee Cheuk Yiu.
“I’ve come to the Hong Kong Open since I was 13 years old and now I’m in the final! This win will give me a lot of confidence. This is my biggest final and it’s in my home town and it’s a great moment for me. Of course I’m very excited.”
Kidambi offered no excuses. “Well, I couldn’t convert a 20-16 lead, I can’t complain. He started really well, and the local conditions suited him. The conditions were tricky, but this is the semifinal stage, so I can’t complain.”
Highlights | In a dramatic second game 🇭🇰 Lee Cheuk Yiu comes back to delight home crowd by edging over former world No.1 Kidambi Srikanth 🏸#HSBCBWFbadminton #HSBCRacetoGuangzhou pic.twitter.com/7BI9Azr7hP
— BWF (@bwfmedia) November 16, 2019
Perseverance. That’s the advice from Kim Jungjun of Korea to Daiki Kajiwara, after the Japanese teenager lost their men’s singles Wheelchair (WH2) semifinal match, 21-23 21-18 17-21.
“I’ll give him four years maybe before he can take over from me,” said world champion Kim.
Kajiwara had local fans on their feet, keeping at least two points ahead in the first game until Kim equalised at 17-17. Not giving in, Kajiwara pushed for deuce at 20-20 and 21-21 before losing 21-23.
The second went in favour of the Japanese. The third was too close to call with Kajiwara keeping Kim at bay until Kim took the match 21-18.
“He’s improved a lot since we last played in Thailand. He’s more stabilised in the wheelchair and his skills are better too. His game has more strategy,” added Kim.
Kajiwara, winner of the Denmark Para Badminton International last month, first earned Kim’s praise for his performance in Thailand in September.
“It’s good to hear his compliment. He’s a highly respected player and has even shared tips with me off court. I expect that I will beat him one day soon,” said Kajiwara, earlier this week.
Kim’s win sets up another final against Hong Kong China’s Chan Ho Yuen on Sunday.
No Easy Matches: Lucas Mazur
Men’s Standing Lower (SL4) singles world champion, France’s Lucas Mazur, claims his loss in Denmark has made him stronger.
“Denmark was difficult because I was mentally tired but now I can show my opponents that I can come back better,” said Mazur, after defeating Suhas Lalinekere Yathiraj 21-13 21-18 in the semifinals.
“I was losing the second game 4-11 but I made a great comeback. This is my new way. To be mentally strong because usually it’s not easy for me but today I gave it my best.”
Mazur will also play in the finals of the mixed doubles SL3-SU5 with partner Faustine Noel against Turkey’s Iiker Tuzcu and Halime Yildiz.
Tuzcu and Halime Yildiz took out Thailand’s Siripong Teammarom/Chanida Srinavakul in the quarterfinals and Japan’s third/fourth seeds Toshiaki Suenaga/Akiko Sugino in the semifinals to set up a clash against Mazur and Noel.
Both Mazur and Tuzcu played four matches on Saturday with Mazur winning all of his, while Tuczu lost his Standing Upper (SU5) men’s singles semifinal to Suryo Nugroho of Indonesia, 15-21 16-21.
“I’m feeling good about the mixed doubles. But I think Tuzcu may be tired. I’m used to playing four matches a day but I’m not sure about him. There will definitely be no easy matches tomorrow for anyone,” said Mazur.
Tuzcu who sustained an injury in the Turkish Para Badminton International – ENESCUP 2019 and missed three tournaments after that said: “My injury has healed and I’m ready to come back.”
“We’re a new pair and I let Ilker direct the game when we’re on court. He’s fast and accurate, and I support his game. It works,” added Yildiz.
Japan missed out on both the women’s singles Wheelchair finals when WH1 world champion and world No.1 Sarina Satomi fell to Thailand’s Sujirat Pookkam, 16-21 21-9 21-17, and Yuma Yamazaki lost the WH2 semifinals to China’s Xu Tingting 11-21 10-21.
Satomi and Yamazaki, however, combined forces in the WH1-2 women’s doubles to defeat China’s Xu Tingting and Zhang Jing, 21-11 21-13, and will play the finals against Liu Yutong and Yin Menglu of China.
Japan’s Fujino Haruka also reach the finals, defeating top seed Helle Sofie Sagoy of Norway 23-21 11-21 21-14 in the SL4 women’s singles semifinal.
Krysten Coombs of England took out Short Stature (SH6) men’s singles world champion and teammate Jack Shephard, 15-21 21-11 21-14, and will play the finals against India’s Krishna Nagar.
England’s Daniel Bethell defeated India’s Manoj Sarkar 21-7 21-12 in the Standing Lower (SL3) men’s singles semifinals and now takes on Pramod Baghat of India.
Earlier today he beat Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara 21-16 21-18. “He’s a great player and raises his game each time especially when he’s playing in Japan, so this was a tough match. We both did well. It was a fine margin and I’m looking forward to more tough matches here,” said Bethell.
Quote of the Day
“My game was not consistently aggressive or creative enough. I knew what I had to do but I also made many mistakes. There was a slight draft but then I had too much power in my shots and they kept going out. I tend to make more mistakes than the other top players in my class. I don’t have enough control in my shots and I’ll need to work on that.” – Valeska Knoblauch of Germany, after losing in the Wheelchair (WH1) quarterfinals to China’s Yin Menglu, 21-17 21-13.
The Thai was cruising at 19-12 against Akane Yamaguchi when she fell prey to self-doubt, and Yamaguchi stormed back to take the opening game at 23-21.
But Intanon refused to let the setback deflate her, and stuck to her task, unveiling many of her signature strokes that Yamaguchi struggled to return. Intanon’s smashes were sharp and homed in on the lines; at the net she conjured some shots that drew gasps from the crowd.
Yamaguchi, who hasn’t looked her best in recent months, eventually faded away in the face of Intanon’s cutting blows, 21-23 21-15 21-12.
In tomorrow’s final, Intanon takes on Chen Yu Fei, whom she has beaten only twice in 12 matches, and none in the last three.
“I was calm at 19-10 and she just tried to play with more speed,” said Intanon, explaining what had happened in the first game. “That’s not my game and I put pressure on myself. For me, I felt it was not my point when I was hitting the shuttle, so it was not good even though I controlled the game.
“I just tried to keep calm and try again in the second. I knew I had to push her more, play not her game, but what I want to play. We know each other, we’ve played many times. Although I made a mistake in the first game, I tried to enjoy the match and challenge myself.
“In the second and third, the strokes were sharper and I tried to not slow down the game.”
Intanon said she expected Chen Yu Fei – who won the Fuzhou China Open last Sunday – to be tired.
“She will be a bit tired from last week, and here also she looked tired. She has a good defence. I will try to do my best, I won’t think about my weakness.
“I want to be more confident. When I play my game I feel happy and enjoy it, but today I feel I pressured myself. For tomorrow, I won’t expect that I have to be champion. I have to show what is my game.”
Series of saves by Yamaguchi, but it's not enough 🏸
— BWF (@bwfmedia) November 16, 2019