It was a mild surprise that the Chinese and Japanese legs of the Super Series that followed the highly-charged London Olympics, turned out to be a much muted affair. Obviously one would not have expected a repeat of the events of the 2012 Games, but the absence of some top players in China and Japan must have been a disappointment to spectators still baying for the London repeats.
But for coaches of players who had acted ‘page-boys’ in Super Series tournaments all this while, this turn of events, must have been a blessing. Here at last was an opportunity for them to hit ‘pay-dirt’ and earn international recognition; hit the limelight and get to rostrums never reached before – all because the Big Boys were not in town!.
Ironically this development though not encouraged by the powers that control the sport, could be a blessing of sort too. It provided the opportunity to break away from the perennial ‘has been’ to ‘champion’
And this was the big news that emerged from the China and the Japan tournaments. In the absence of ranked players from the rest of the world at the China Masters, the host nation as expected dominated, winning all five titles. But Chinese winners were not necessarily those the international community was used to.
How familiar are the pairing of Chai Biao Zhang & Zhang Nan (Men Doubles) and Cheng Shu & Luo Yu (Women Doubles). Both were scratch combinations with no Super Series success. Yet they stood atop the rostrum on the final day to receive the Champion’s cheque!
Then there was this youngster from Hong Kong, Hu Yun, ranked 16 in the world and reached his first Super Series Final only to lose to China’s Cheng Long at the last hurdle.
Across the sea in Japan a week later, where China and Korea were absent, there was more joy for the likes of such ‘junior’players. Apart from Lee Chong Wei who took the Singles with a well-paced victory over Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana, all other winners enjoyed their first taste of a Super Series podium success.
Tai Tzu Ying of Hong Kong, ranked 12th tasted her first win at this level in Women Singles Final. Malaysia’s Mixed Doubles pair of Chan Peng Soon & Goh Liu Ying savoured their first taste of Super Series success.
In Men Doubles, the 16th ranked Koreans Kim Ki Jung & Kim Sa Rang upstaged their more illustrious Malaysians, Koo Kien Kiat & Tan Book Heong, ranked 7th and former All England Champions for their first SS title.
And so it was with Hong Kong’s Poon Lok Yan & Tse Ying Tsuet who upset home favourites Shizuka Matsuo & Mami Naito to capture the Women Doubles top prize. The Japanese girls are ranked 9 while Poon & Tze are at a distant 21.
Much more than mere titles, such success at a stage well beyond their reach under normal circumstances, will remain inspirational. It will provide the confidence and the belief they have the capacity to reach the very top.
Now the players move to Europe for the Danish and the French Opens, scheduled for the middle of next month.
Japan Open 2012
Lee Chong Wei (MAS) beat Boonsak Ponsana (THA) 21-18, 21-18.
Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) beat Eriko Hirose (JPN) 9-21, 21-9, 21-14.
Kim Ki Jung & Kim Sa Rang (KOR) beat Koo Kien Kiat & Tan Boon Heong (MAS) 21-16, 21-19.
Poon Lok Yan & Tse Ying Suet (HKG) beat Shizuka Matsuo & Mami Naito (JPN) 21-17, 22-20.
Chan Peng Soon & Goh Liu Ying (MAS) beat Mahammad Rijal & Liliyana Natsir (INA) 21-12, 21-19.
China Open 2012
Chen Long (CHN) beat Hu Yun (HKG) 21-11, 21-13.
Wang Yihan (CHN) beat Jiang Yangjiao (CHN) 21-18, 21-17.
Chai Biao & Zhang Nan (CHN) beat Hiroyuki Endo & Kenichi Hayakawa (JPN) 21-18, 21-17.
Bao Yixin & Zhong Qianxin (CHN) beat Cheng Shu & Luo Yu (CHN) 21-12, 21-15.
Xu Chen & Ma Jin (CHN) beat Qiu Zihan & Tang Jinhua (CHN) 14-21, 21-11, 21-10.