Chen Long wins his first Badminton Asia title in style
Olympic and world champion Chen Long added the Asia title to his long list of titles and he celebrated with gusto - when he downed his rival Lin Dan after a 80-minute battle in the men's singles final in the 2017 Wuhan - City of Automobile Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan on Sunday.
In the final played at Wuhan Sports Center Gymnasium in the Hubei Province the lanky Chen Long gave his home supporters plenty to cheer in his come-from-behind 21-23, 21-11, 21-10 win over Lin Dan - a five time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist.
"This win is special to me. I come from Hubei Province and this Asia title is for the my people in the province for their tremendous support.
"I lost in the final last year and I made up for that disappointment with this win for my first Asia title" said Chen Long, who was forced to withdraw in the quarter-finals in the Malaysia Open and later skipped the Singapore due to a wrist injury.
"Beating Lin Dan is sweet and satisfying. It is always satisfying to beat my better known opponent. I must also say that it was a very entertaining final and to lift my first title this year was enough for my fans and supporters to celebrate as much as I celebrated."
The Badminton Asia Championships offering USD325,000 in prize money, saw Chen Long richer by USD24, 375. Lin Dan's earnings from the defeat were USD12,350.
China also celebrated two other titles - the men's doubles and the mixed doubles while Taiwan's world No 1 and top seed Tai Tzu Ying won her sixth women's singles sixth title on the trot since winning the Hong Kong Open Superseries in November last year.
Japan's Olympics champions Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi lived up to their billing as the top seeds in the women's doubles - their first title this year.
Lu Kai-Huang Yaqiong started the ball rolling for China by winning the mixed doubles. The third seeds were too strong for Thailand's No 8 seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh- Sapsiree Taerattanachai with a straight sets 21-18, 21-11 win in 42 minutes.
Matsutomo-Takahashi, despite their roller coaster run this year after winning the Rio Olympics gold, came through a 75-minute battle to beat unseeded Korean opponents Kim Hye-rin-Yoo Hae-won 21-19, 16-21, 21-10 and pocketed USD25, 675 in prize money that came with it. The losers took home USD12, 350.
Matsutomo-Takahashi's first title this year would not have come at a better time for the Japanese who failed to retain their All England where they failied to get past the second round. In the Malaysia Open they reached only the semi-finals and did well to reach the final in the Singapore Open but lost to Olympics silver medallist Kamilla Rytter Juhl-Christinna Pedersen.
Tzu Ying continued her amazing run this year and added the Asia title to her list after winning the All-England, the Malaysia Open and the Singapore Open. Apart from the Hong Kong Open, Tzu Ying also won the season ending BWF Superseries Finals in Dubai in December.
The 22-year-old Taiwanese, who will skip this year's World Championships in Glasgow in August to play in the World University Games (Universiade) hosted by her country, however, was stretched to the limit in the final against Japan's second seeded Akane Yamaguchi.
The Taiwanese had come back from a set down for the title to beat Yamaguchi 18-21, 21-11, 21-18 in the final which lasted a 59 minutes. Her takings were USD24, 375. Yamaguchi settled for USD12,350 for her efforts.
In the last final of the day Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen, the No 6 seeds, outplayed compatriots Huang Kaixiang-Wang Yilyu in the men's doubles final. The unseeded Huang Kaixiang-Wang Yilyu stunned their third seeded compatriots Chai Biao-Hong Wei 21-16, 21-19 in the semi-finals but could reproduce that form in the final.
RESULTS (ALL FINALS)
Chen Long (Chn) beat Lin Dan (Chn) 21-23, 21-11, 21-10
Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen (Chn) beat Huang Kaixiang-Wang Yilyu (Chn) 21-14 21-12
Tai Tzu Ying (Tpe) beat Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) 18-21, 21-11, 21-18
Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) beat Kim Hye Rin-Yoo Hae-won (Kor) 21-19, 16-21, 21-10
Lu Kai-Huang Yaqiobg (Chn) beat Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) beat Lu Kai-Huang Yaqiong (Chn) 21-18, 21-11