Fresh Combos Spark Intrigue
Friday, October 6, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO

A clutch of new-look Women’s Doubles pairs made ripples in the last two World Superseries events, infusing the category with the kind of unpredictability that it wasn’t traditionally known for.

15006000

While the top ten have remained more or less constant, there have been interesting developments further down the Destination Dubai Rankings. China’s Yu Xiaohan and Huang Yaqiong, for instance, moved up 13 places to No.15 following their victory at the Victor Korea Open. It was the first Superseries win for the pair, which came together in June this year.

The recent retirements of consistent Women’s Doubles players like Bao Yixin, Luo Ying and Luo Yu have opened up space for emerging pairs.

Among other impressive performers in Korea were Indonesia’s Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu, Japan’s Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara, Korea’s Kim Hye Rin/Yoo Hae Won and China’s Du Yue/Xu Ya, all of whom reached the quarter-finals. Indonesian veteran Polii, having struggled to find a suitable partner following the injury to her compatriot Nitya Krishinda Maheswari, hit rhythm with Rahayu, with whom she combined at the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup in May. The duo won their first title immediately after – the SCG Thailand Open – and made the semi-finals of the Skycity New Zealand Open. In Korea they had two big wins – over Thailand’s Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajongjai and Japan’s World Championships runners-up Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota.

These performances saw Polii/Rahayu (featured image) jump 14 spots to No.29 on the Destination Dubai Rankings.

Japan are now the dominant powerhouse in Women’s Doubles; this was underlined with the emergence of yet another pair – Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara, who beat No.4 seeds Shin Seung Chan/Jung Kyung Eun before going down to eventual champions Yu/Huang in a tight quarter-final. The Japanese are now No.39 on the Destination Dubai Rankings, one place below Du Yue/Xu Ya.

At the Daihatsu Yonex Japan Open, it was the turn of relative unknowns Misato Aratama/Akane Watanabe to steal the limelight, as they shot down World champions Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan (China) in the opening round, on their way to the quarter-finals.

Korea, who have rejigged some of their combinations in recent months, had cause for cheer with qualifiers Kim Ha Na/Kong Hee Yong making the final. They were however beat by local favourites Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi quite comfortably.

For Matsutomo and Takahashi, the Japan Open campaign couldn’t have been more perfect.

Not only did they win their second Japan Open, they did it by overcoming their biggest domestic challengers, Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota, who had beaten them twice this year. With their second Superseries win in three finals this year, Matsutomo and Takahashi climbed two places to No.3 on the Destination Dubai Rankings.

In top spot are Korea’s Yonex All England winners Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee – runners-up at their home Superseries – while in second place are Fukushima/Hirota, who have been impressive ever since they won their first major crown at the Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open.

Two other Japanese pairs are in the top ten – Yonex-Sunrise India Open winners Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto (No.5) and Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao (No.6). Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl, winners in Singapore and runners-up in England and Australia, are at No.4.

Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan haven’t had a particularly bright season but secured enough points to be at No.7. World champions Chen/Jia, Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Ya Ching/Wu Ti Jung and Thailand’s Puttita Supajirakul/Sapsiree Taerattanachai are the others in the top ten.

Just behind them are India’s Ashwini Ponnappa/Sikki Reddy, who, like other Indian pairs, have improved tremendously in recent months.

The top eight pairs at the end of 12 Superseries events will qualify to the Dubai World Superseries Finals at Hamdan Sports Complex in December. With four Superseries left, the race to Dubai is set for a dramatic finish!

Click here for Destination Dubai Rankings

PARTNERS