Tai on Top – World Superseries Halfway Review
Friday, August 4, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO

Tai Tzu Ying’s semi-final finish at the Crown Group Australian Open helped her reclaim the top spot in the Destination Dubai Rankings at the conclusion of the first half of the MetLife BWF World Superseries season.

The Chinese Taipei star (featured image) had slipped to No.2 following a quarter-final exit at the BCA Indonesia Open after three straight Superseries wins, but her last-four place the following week in Australia propelled her back to the top spot. Tai’s 43,670 points came from the three Superseries victories in England, Malaysia and Singapore, besides the quarter-final in Indonesia and semi-final in Australia.

Tai traded places with Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, who crashed out in the opening round of the Australian Open. Her early exit was an anomaly, as the Korean was otherwise in tremendous form, making four straight semi-finals and finishing runner-up to Japan’s Sayaka Sato at the BCA Indonesia Open.

Japan are the side with the most depth in Women’s Singles. Sayaka Sato grabbed her first Superseries title at the Indonesia Open, which helped her break into the top ten. Currently at No.9, Sato is behind her compatriots Akane Yamaguchi (No.3) and Nozomi Okuhara (No.6). Another Japanese, Minatsu Mitani, is at No.13.

Yamaguchi (No.3) came into her own at the Australian Open, showcasing her attacking ability in a semi-final takedown of Tai Tzu Ying, and nearly had a hand on the title before being denied by the indefatigable Nozomi Okuhara in the final. Yamaguchi – semi-finalist in England and India, and quarter-finalist in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – can look back with satisfaction at her season.

Okuhara (No.6) will be happier, for she won her first Superseries crown in over a year, displaying her characteristic tenacity in beating players like Carolina Marin (Spain), Sun Yu (China) and Yamaguchi en route to winning the Australian Open. Having made the quarter-finals in India and the semi-finals in Malaysia, Okuhara appeared to have rediscovered her confidence and hit peak form as the season progressed.

If Tai Tzu Ying had a blazing start to the season, Olympic champion Carolina Marin (No.4) wasn’t too far behind – finishing runner-up in three successive events – India, Malaysia and Singapore. Marin was outplayed by India’s Pusarla V Sindhu in the India Open final – a reversal of their Olympic result; while in Malaysia and Singapore, it was Tai who outfoxed the Spaniard. Nevertheless, Marin’s results showed she was on her way back after her injury troubles last season. Despite losing the opening round in Indonesia and Australia, Marin will still go in to the TOTAL BWF World Championships as a prime contender.

One of her biggest challengers would be Pusarla (No.5), who got the better of the Olympic champion on her home turf in New Delhi. Pusarla made three quarter-finals – England, Singapore and Australia – besides winning the India Open.

At No.7 is China’s Sun Yu – quarter-finalist at four straight Superseries before going one better in Australia. Sun was so overcome by emotion at beating India’s Saina Nehwal in the Australian Open quarter-finals that she collapsed in a flood of tears.

Following behind Sun is Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, who was bothered by a foot injury in India and Malaysia and couldn’t quite regain the touch that she showed at the All England, where she was runner-up. Intanon’s season got bumpy with first round exits in Singapore and Indonesia and a second round exit in Australia.

At tenth spot is Saina Nehwal, who found her way back after a knee surgery and other niggles. Nehwal made three quarter-finals – including a high-profile face-off with compatriot Pusarla at the India Open – and looks set for a stronger performance in the second half of the season as she worked her way back to full fitness.

The top eight players at the end of the 12-leg Superseries season will be invited to the Dubai World Superseries Finals in December at Hamdan Sports Complex.

Top Ten (Women’s Singles)

1.Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei)

2.Sung Ji Hyun (Korea)

3.Akane Yamaguchi (Japan)

4.Carolina Marin (Spain)

5.Pusarla V Sindhu (India)

6.Nozomi Okuhara (Japan)

7.Sun Yu (China)

8.Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand)

9.Sayaka Sato (Japan)

10.Saina Nehwal (India)

 

Click here for Destination Dubai Rankings

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