Double heartbreak for Malaysian pairs at Korea Masters

Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai failed to clinch the mixed doubles titles.

Soon Huat-Shevon earlier failed in their bid to claim their first title of the year after going down 14-21, 15-21 to bogey Hong Kong pair Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet. It was their fourth straight defeat to the Hong Kong pair.

The pair’s limp loss in 34 minutes undid their accomplishment of reaching their first World Tour final of the year, after losing in the semi-finals at the All England, German Open, Hong Kong Open and China Open.

The world number eight pair had ended the semi-finals curse by beating Chinese Taipei’s Lee Jhe-huei-Hsu Ya Ching 21-17, 21-17, but fell short in the final hurdle as they lost in all four meetings against the Hong Kong pair.
Soon Huat-Shevon, ranked eighth in the world, had fallen in the semi-finals of the All-England, German, Hong Kong and China Opens this year.

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Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong miss out on BWF World Tour Finals

Malaysia’s Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong miss the championship

Malaysia’s Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong narrowly missed out on a spot at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2019 after they lost a tense final at the Gwangju Korea Masters 2019 yesterday to Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin.

Although Goh/Tan were able to save two match points in the second set, and were neck-and-neck with the Taiwanese pair in the decider, they have exposed a lot of their weaknesses during the final. For example, Tan Wee Kiong has committed too many uncharacteristic mistakes during critical moments, while Goh V Shem’s lift was too easy to be killed by the Taiwanese players. The No. 7 seeds from Malaysia couldn’t find answers to Wang Chi-Lin’s powerful smash, furthermore, their speed was not optimal compare to some top men’s pair in the world. Goh/Tan went down 19-21, 22-20, 19-21 in 59 minutes.

To be fair, V Shem-Wee Kiong, who won silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics, tried very hard. They battled hard to save four match points to force a deciding game.

But the seasoned pairing, who won the Thailand Masters in January and Taiwan Open in September, could not make it count and fell in 59 minutes.
V Shem-Wee Kiong can get some consolation in their first appearance in a final after losing in the first round of the previous four meets in Denmark, France, China and Hong Kong.

After Goh/Tan’s loss in the Korea Masters final, their compatriots, Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik filled the spot to become the last men’s pair to qualify for the 2019 BWF World Tour Finals men’s doubles event.

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Serene Lin cuts Zhao to size, closes in on 2nd title of the year at Korea Masters

Lin Dan missed out places on the 2019 BWF World Tour Finals.

Lin Dan will be bidding to win his second title of the year after booking his berth in the final of the US$200,000 Korea Masters in Gwangju.

The 36-year-old former world No.1 will take on Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan in today’s men’s singles decider of the BWF World Tour Super 300 event at Gwangju Women’s University Stadium.

Playing against a player 13 years younger than him, the 36-year-old Lin Dan couldn’t convert when he was leading at 21-20 in the first set, allowing Kanta Tsuneyama to smash his way for a 24-22 win.

In the second game, Tsuneyama scored 3 consecutive points to lead at 11-9 during the mid-game interval. Lin Dan looked tired and was moving slower after the interval, while Tsuneyama seized the opportunity to take the second set 21-12.

After the defeat, Lin Dan failed to earn the additional 30 ranking points needed in order to qualify for the 2019 BWF World Tour Finals. Winning the Korea Masters would give him 1050 ranking points.

The 16th-ranked Lin won the Malaysia Open — his only title so far — back in April. He has lost eight times in the first round of tournaments this year.

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Lee Cheuk Yiu, Hometown Hero

Hong Kong: First of all, we would like to congratulate Lee Cheuk Yiu’s superb performance at the 2019 Hong Kong Open, by coming through the qualifying rounds and also beating several world’s top players such as Shi Yuqi in the second round, Viktor Axelsen in the quarter-finals and Kidambi Srikanth in the semi-final before winning the Hong Kong Open against Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 16-21, 21-10, 22-20 in the final.

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.

This article has no intend to undermine Lee’s effort of winning the title, but would like to show how the match umpire Joerg Hupertz of Germany made the questionable call during the championship point and hope BWF would allow some sort of instant replay review in the future to avoid similar incident from happening again.

When Lee was leading at 21-20 in the decider, the Hong Kong player lifted the shuttlecock a little high near the net and Ginting killed it, but it was called “fault” by the umpire, which ended up giving Lee the championship point in the final of the Super 500 tournament on Sunday.

Anthony Sinisuka Ginting was extremely disappointed with the call, but obviously there’s nothing he could do to change the outcome of the match.

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.”


Hong Kong Open 2019, Kidambi Srikanth vs Sourabh Verma

Hong Kong Open 2019, Kidambi Srikanth vs Sourabh Verma

Sourabh, seeded fourth in the qualifiers, first defeated Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 21-15 21-19 before getting the better of Lucas Claerbout of France 21-19 21-19 in the final qualifying round.

Srikanth has not been in his best form this year. Apart from reaching the finals of India Open in March, the Indian has failed to produce a quality result. He also slipped out of the top 10 male shuttler’s ladder of the BWF Rankings and is currently placed 13th on the list. He will be looking to emulate his 2017 form when he won four titles.

The 26-year old have the 2019 Fuzhou China Open a miss earlier this month, after having lost in the first round of the 2019 French Open in October this year.

Sourabh is the fourth male Indian shuttler to move to the second round of this year’s event to join Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap and Prannoy H. S. In a bid to clinch his first Super 500 title, Sourabh will be looking to go past his compatriot and in the process, improve his 38th rank in the BWF rankings.

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Chen Yufei beats Ratchanok Intanon in 2019 Hong Kong Open final.

It was Chen’s second title in two weeks following her Fuzhou China Open triumph last Sunday.

Hong Kong: China’s World No. 3 Chen Yufei survived a three-set tussle to beat Thailand’s former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon 21-18, 13-21, 21-13 to win the 2019 Hong Kong Open women’s singles title on Sunday.

The BWF World Tour Super 500 event was Chen’s 6th title of the year, and also her second consecutive title in two weeks, after winning the Fuzhou China Open last Sunday.

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.

“It was a very difficult match, Intanon was quicker in the second set,” said Chen.

“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.”



Ratchanok Intanon gets Chen Yu Fei in Hong Kong Open final

Hong Kong: In their 13th career showdown, Thailand’s World No. 5 Ratchanok Intanon will be taking on China’s World No. 3 Chen Yu Fei in the Hong Kong Open final on Sunday.

The fifth seeded Intanon made Hong Kong Open final for the second straight year after outlasting second seeded Akane Yamaguchi of Japan 21-23, 21-15, 21-12 in the semi-final in 62 minutes.

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.”

Chen Yu Fei was also pushed to limit before come out winning by beating Zhang Beiwen of USA 21 18, 14-21, 21-15. Chen currently held a 10-2 career head-to-head record against Intanon.


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Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi cruise into Hong Kong Open quarter-finals

Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi set the courts alight

After four first-round exits, national men’s doubles pair Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi set the courts alight with a stunning win over world No. 5 Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto at the Hong Kong Open, a day after the meet was rocked by the shock withdrawal of world champion Kento Momota of Japan.

Ong/Teo were trailed by 8-12 in the first set, but they were able to win the next 7 out of 9 points to lead at 16-14 before Alfian/Ardianto regained the lead at 18-17. Nevertheless, Ong/Teo were able to hold their nerves to seize critical points at key moment to win 21-19 in the first set.

Alfian/Ardianto started to give up after the mid-game interval of the second set. The Malaysian pair didn’t face too much trouble to wrap up the game 21-14. They will face World No. 13 Choi Solgyu/Seo Seung Jae of Korea on Friday.

Their last victory over the Indonesians came at the All-England last year.

The win was the tonic they needed after having failed to clear the first round in their previous four outings.

“We played pretty well today. But we also made some minor mistakes that we shouldn’t have made. It was fortunate that we won this game and now we just want to focus on the next game,” said Teo.

They now have a chance for their first semi-final appearance since finishing runners-up at the Malaysian Masters in January.

But first, they will have to pull off another upset against South Korea’s world No. 13 Choi Sol-gyu-Seo Seung-jae.


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Hong Kong Open: PV Sindhu Enters Second Round, Saina Nehwal Crashes Out In First Round

PV Sindhu Enters Second Round in Hong Kong Open

Having come into the tourney after a disappointing run of defeats, the 2019 world champion faced little resistance from her opponent and went on to win the match 21-15 21-16 in 36 minutes.

The sixth-ranked Indian will next play Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan.

Earlier in the day, Saina Nehwal crashed out of the tournament after a 13-21, 20-22 defeat to China’s Cai Yan Yan. The world No.9 Indian’s bad run continues as she has now made opening round exits in five of her last six tournaments. It was the second consecutive opening round defeat against China’s Cai Yan Yan for Saina Nehwal after she lost in straight games of the China Open. Saina Nehwal thus trails 0-2 to Cai Yan Yan in the overall head-to-head records.

In the first game, Cai Yan Yan got a head start as she led from the onset of the match. Saina Nehwal looked nowhere in contention to match her Chinese counterpart’s tempo as she was trailing 11-2 at the mid-game interval. Cai Yan Yan continued her dominating approach in the opening game as she went on to close it at 21-13.

Nehwal looked competitive in the second game. She was continuously trying to challenge her Chinese counterpart but failed to overpower her as she went down in 30 minutes of the first-round clash.

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Kidambi Walks Over Kento Momota in Hong Kong

Kidambi Srikanth gets 1st round walkover

What a lucky day for Kidambi as he conserves his energy going into the men’s singles second round of the Hong Kong Open.

Momota’s reason for pulling out has not been revealed, but perhaps has been caused by the nearly 90 minute long final against Chou Tien Chen last week in the China Open. The title last week was his 10th this year, and he was the favourite to win in this tournament as well.

Having won 12 out of 15 fights with Kidambi in his career, Momota stood a good chance of winning this as well.

Srikanth will be looking for a second wind in this tournament, trying to emulate his amazing 2017 form. He recently got knocked out of the top 10 of the BWF rankings, falling to 13th.


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Malaysia’s Chia-Soh Overtakes Goh-Tan on rankings!

Malaysian Badminton Men's Doubles Pair Chia-Soh celebrating win

Malaysia’s own men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik continued their tremendous display this year by stunning Muhammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan to take a spot in the semis of the Fuzhou Open.

In their head to head, this is only the second time Chia-Soh has prevailed over Ahsan-Setiawn – a pair they have lost four times consecutively to in prior matches.

We hope we can go further. Our mental approach has changed. We had a couple of close losses to Ahsan and Hendra, but today we played our style. Not like the last two matches where we were nervous.” – Aaron Chia

With this, Aaron and Wooi Yik has overtaken V Shem and Wee Kiong in provisional rankings. Perhaps we finally will have more players to look forward to in future tournaments!

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Chen Yu Fei defeats Nozomi Okuhara with as Local Favourite in China

Chen Yu Fei clenches her fist in victory over Okuhara

As with the men’s singles final, the women’s was also a repeat of last year with China’s Chen Yu Fei defending her title 9-21, 21-12, 21-18.

In the first set, Okuhara dominated Chen with flawless movement and some amazing drop shots. We thought she was on form to steamroll Chen in this final.

But Chen recovered in the second set, playing some spectacular shots on the line and not making mistakes she committed in the first set.

Both players played well in the final set, with only tenacity and will giving Chen the win over Okuhara, a strength probably drawn from having home court advantage as well.

I kept telling myself to be confident. I got the lead in the deciding game so the pressure was on her. I held on to this belief and never gave up. I was doing well when I was the one dictating the pace but when I followed her rhythm, I’d feel very tired. I could win the points when I was the one controlling the rallies.” – Chen Yu Fei, Fuzhou China Open 2019

Chen Yu Fei, the All England champion became the first player since Li Xuerei in 2012 to retain this title, an honour to China.

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Momota Celebrates Glorious 10th Title in Fuzhou

Kento Momota celebrating victory on floor

Since he lost to Anders Antonsen in the Indonesia Masters final in January, Momota has been unbeaten in finals. It was the defeat in Jakarta, Momota said, that motivated him to push for more.

I was in form in Indonesia, and I was very disappointed when I lost. I used that as motivation to work harder. I didn’t want to lose another final, so I’ve put in a lot of effort. Today was a close match. I played very well in the third game, particularly when the points were close. Chou never gives up and he fights back no matter how far behind he is.” – Kento Momota, Fuzhou China Open 2019

Repeating last year’s battle, the world number 1 and 2 fought out 3 sets of 21-15, 17-21, 21-18.

Although defeated, Chou Tien Chen acknowledged Momota’s net skills and praised him for his performance.

Some of the rallies were very good, but I think his net skills were sharper than mine. It was very difficult to gain an advantage, I will have to improve.” – Chou Tien Chen, Fuzhou China Open 2019

Our group of friends have always loved watching Momota play, and his comeback since last year from his suspension has been nothing short of amazing. At 25 years of age, with many old birds retiring, Momota seems to be set to dominate the scene even further.

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Lucky Number 8 for Minions Gideon and Sukamuljo

Kamura-Sonoda and Gideon-Sukamuljo Men's doubles pair posing on podium as first and second place

Indonesia’s defending World No. 1 men’s doubles Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo/Marcus Fernaldi Gideon retain their  the Fuzhou China Open title after a dominating performance against Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda, the fourth-seeds from Japan.

Gideon-Sukamuljo are the first men’s doubles pair to win the same title four consecutive times in the history of Super Series and now World Tour events.

Down 5-8 in the second game, Sukamuljo/Gideon won 12 points in a row in the second game! Coming from 5-8 down to win 21-9.
“In the second game, Kevin won a lot of the rallies and they played in a hurry too, so they immediately lost their focus,” said Gideon.
“We are happy with our performance; we feel we could enjoy the game and perform quite well. At the beginning of the year, we felt that we were not on track, but we worked on our problems and overcame them. We want to keep learning and improving. We are certainly happy to win this tournament four times, it’s extraordinary,” said Sukamuljo. “We keep trying to maintain our motivation and do not want to be easily satisfied.”

We have always been fans of the play styles of both pairs, but we were surprised at the margin of victory as the Japanese pair are also known to be able to keep aggressive pace in games.

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Fuzhou China Open 2019: Tai Tzu Ying injured! Nozomi Okuhara vs Chen Yu Fei again!

Tai Tzu Ying Injured on the floor

Our favourite women’s singles player Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan was forced to retire from the Fuzhou China Open 2019.

“I have injured my knee since French Open, and I am not in my best condition right now, I need more rest. After the French Open, I only had 1 week of rest before coming here. I felt a lot of pain I am worried my injury was actually aggravated by competing continuously,” said Tai.
Due to the injury, Tai has withdrawn from next week’s Hong Kong Open as well.

On the other hand, the Chinese local favourite, Chen Yu Fei went through an exciting and grueling encounter to defeat Michelle Li of Canada. Okuhara will face home shuttler Chen Yufei in the final.

The final between Chen and Nozomi will be exiting to watch. Last year, it was her victory in this tournament that set Yu Fei on her path to success. We are completely uncertain as to who has the upper hand this time. What do you guys think?

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Not-so-Superfood causes Lee Zii Jia to withdraw from Hong Kong Open

Malaysian National Badminton Singles Player Lee Zii Jia Clapping

Severe food poisoning forces Lee Zii Jia to withdraw from the Hong Kong Open. Malaysians sigh in disappointment at the unfortunate circumstance that befell the player, who already showed us tremendous performances this year. As much as Malaysians love our food, sometimes cannot lah.

With Lee Zii Jia out for the count, Daren Liew will have to fight all by himself in the Men’s Singles category.

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Thammasin stuns top seed Shi to triumph at BWF Macau Open 2019

Sitthikom Thammasin of Thailand upset Shi Yuqi of China to claim the men's singles crown

Thammasin came from behind to register a 12-21, 21-14, 21-7 win in the final of the BWF World Tour Super 300 tournament at the Tap Seac Multi-sports Pavilion.

Victory secures the 24-year-old his first BWF World Tour title of the year.

2018 All England champion Shi Yu Qi had to do battle in three games to put away Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen. Yu Qi, who possesses a deadly cross-court smash from round the head position, took the first game relatively easily.

But then, his opponent fought back with all his ability. Being a left hander, the Chinese shuttler has to use his backhand much more than other players. This, when combined to his possession of a strong smash, meant that the Thai player was continually pushing the ball to his opponent’s backhand side. Yu Qi didn’t help the matter by committing errors of his own.

The third and deciding game seemed to be heading the way of the Chinese at mid-game interval with a lead of 11-3 in his favour. But Kantaphon kept up his fight and made Shi run around the court. In the end, the good retrieving skills of Yu Qi gave him a 21-15, 16-21, 21-16 victory.

In the final, the former All England champion would face another Thai – Sitthikom Thammasin. The latter won his semi-final against China’s Sun Fei Xiang 21-16, 14-21, 21-7.

At the end of last year, Yu Qi had emerged as the most likely player to challenge Kento Momota’s superiority in men’s singles badminton and also China’s biggest hope for major success in the division. Due to an injury sustained earlier this year, Shi has been out of action and, after coming back, out of form. Winning this title would be of great importance to him.

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Sze Fei-Izzuddin stretch China’s world No. 3 pair before going down

Sze Fei-Izzuddin stretch China’s world No. 3 pair before going down

But the world No. 28 deserved a pat on the back for going down fighting.

Sze Fei-Izzuddin did show they were no pushovers against their fancied rivals, especially in the second game where they stormed back to level the contest twice from 7-11 and 13-16 before saving two match points at 18-20.

Izzuddin said the pair could have stretched Junhui-Yuchen to the rubber game had they been more composed in dealing with the crucial moments.

In the semi-finals yesterday, Sze Fei-Izzuddin battled hard before losing 16-21,20-22 to world No. 3 Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen of China in 40 minutes.

The Malaysians went into the match knowing it would be a tall order against the 2018 world champions.

“We should have been more patient. We were too eager to go for the kill but ended up committing unnecessary errors.
“Overall we gave them a good fight, be it speed, skill or power. I thought we were able to match them. The difference is that they made less mistakes,” Izzuddin said.
The defeat was painful for the world no. 28 pair, who twice came back in the second game to force deuce against last year’s world champions.

They also played in the last-four stage at the Thailand Masters in January and German Open in March.

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Michelle Li Defends her Title at the Macau Open 2019

Michelle Li Defends her Title at the Macau Open 2019

The Macau Open is a BWF World Tour Super 300 level tournament, featuring some of the top badminton players in the world! With plenty of Olympic qualifying points up for grabs, competition was sure to be fierce!

Women’s singles top seed and defending champion Michelle Li of Canada defeated Han Yue of China on Sunday, the same opponent she faced in last year’s Macau Open final, winning 21-18, 21-8 to claim the 2019 Macau Open title in 39 minutes.

Li was playing with aggressive style by unleashing powerful smashes towards Han Yue whenever she had the chance. Her tight net shots managed to force Han to lift the shuttlecock high which ended up giving Li a lot opportunity to kill or to move Han to the back of the court.

Han was able to counter Li’s attacks with good defense and some of her own smashes in the first set. However, the second set was completely one sided as Li quickly race to 15-6, 20-8 before wrapping up the match with an out of bound return by Han Yue.

After progressing to the Finals Michelle faced her highest ranked competition of the tournament, China’s Yue Han who entered as the 3rd seed. The first game was close as Michelle managed a narrow 21-18 victory. The next game however Michelle proved too much to handle as she dominated the game 21-8 to win her second Macau Open Women’s Singles title!

The victory was also a great birthday present for Li as Nov 3 was also her 28th birthday.

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Indonesian Shuttlers Take Home Danish Gold

Indonesian shuttlers bring home two Denmark Open golds

No one would have predicted Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti would pull off this amazing feat; even betting websites could not predict the odds of them winning back-to-back in the European series of the HSBC BWF World Tour.

Especially with the dominance displayed by the PRC pairs – World No. 1 Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong, as well as World No. 2 Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping.

Yet they have done the seemingly implausible, emerging victorious in a thrilling match at 21-18, 18-21, 21-19.

Praveen and Melati mastered all the necessary techniques to win the match. Praveen’s fast smash and Melati’s abilities to keep up with him earned them the victory. I am happy for them, as they have finally won a Super 750 category tournament” – Yuni Kartika, Sports’ Presenter

Today we kept communicating and supporting each and that is the key for us. If we do that we tend to play really well,” – Melati Daeva Oktavianti

As we always tell players playing casual doubles, no one can win the game alone. Even if your partner is a lot stronger, or weaker than you, it is your partly your responsibility to work together to achieve a win.

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