Thursday, August 6, 2015
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Since the Chinese debuted at the World Championships in 1983, they have virtually swept the Women’s Doubles category. The victory sequence was interrupted only once – in 1995, by Gil Young Ah/Jang Hye Ock of Korea. In the following years, the Chinese have been undefeated in 12 editions.
The odds once again are heavily in favour of China cruising to a 19th title at the Total BWF World Championships in Jakarta. Apart from history – which is overwhelmingly in their favour, the form book also suggests a Chinese victory. All four Chinese pairs in the contest are World Superseries winners; two of them – Yu Yang/Wang Xiaoli and Zhao Yunlei/Tian Qing are past or present World champions. The other two – Luo Ying/Luo Yu and Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting – have been in superb form this season.
Yu Yang will chase history in her bid to become the first-ever player to win four Women’s Doubles world titles. Currently, she is level with other stalwarts like Lin Ying, Guan Weizhen, Gao Ling and Huang Sui with three crowns. Yu has two titles with current partner Wang Xiaoli (2011 and 2013) and one with Du Jing (2010), making her one of the contemporary legends.
No.3 seeds Yu/Wang are likely to face England’s Heather Olver/Lauren Smith in the second round; No.10 seeds Chang Ye Na/Jung Kyung Eun (Korea) in the third, and compatriots Tian/Zhao in the quarter-finals. Defending champions Tian/Zhao’s first test could be Selena Piek/Eefje Muskens (Netherlands, 9) in the third round. The quarter-final winners could run into top seeds Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Japan) or home favourites Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari in the last-four.
The top seeded Japanese – winners of the Yonex Sunrise India Open – are likely to have a smooth path into the quarter-finals; their toughest opposition on the way is likely to be Bulgaria’s Stefani Stoeva/Gabriela Stoeva (16) in the third round. However, Polii/Maheswari in the quarter-finals would be an altogether different prospect, for the Asian Games gold medallists have a 2-2 record against the Japanese, besides of course having the energy of the crowd behind them. Polii/Maheswari have been in exceptional form lately, with a runner-up place at the BCA Indonesia Open and a winning run at the Yonex Open Chinese Taipei.
Matsutomo/Takahashi and Polii/Maheswari are two of the pairs likely to prevent a Chinese capture of the crown. Another pair who can cause trouble for the Chinese is Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl (4), who are in Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting’s quarter. The Danes though might have a difficult third round against either Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan (Korea, 11) or Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth/Rizki Amelia Pradipta (Indonesia).
No.2 seeds Luo Ying/Luo Yu and No.6 seeds Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting are in the same half. Tang has had success with various partners; she won The Star Australian Open with the experienced Ma Jin, and the pair will back themselves to finish on top of the podium.
Maybank Malaysia Open champions Luo/Luo have potential clashes with Malaysia’s Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei in the third round and India’s Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa or Japan’s Miyuki Maeda/Reika Kakiiwa in the quarter-finals.
“We hope to become World champions. It’s not easy but we will try. The standard of competition is very high. All the players are very skilled; we need to perform at our best and fight for every point,” said Luo Ying.