Regarded as one of the game’s most prestigious tournaments, World Badminton Championships has a history dating back to 1977, when the event was held for the first time. Originally held every three years until 1983, the frequency was changed to two years from 1985. Since 2005, however, tournament has been held every year. The 2014 edition, which concluded in Copenhagen on Sunday, August 31, was the 21st World Badminton Championships. As an exception, the championships are not held in the Olympic years. Badminton Denmark and the capital city of Copenhagen have the rare distinction of hosting the tournament four times. This year the championships were held in the Ballerup Super Arena for seven days between August 25-31, 2014 with participation by top badminton stars from around the world.
The most surprising result of Li-Ning BWF World Championship came from Spain’s Carolina Marin, who won the women’s singles title. The ninth seeded Marin beat tournament favorite and No.1 seed Li Xuerui of China in three games, 17-21, 21-17, 21-18. With her unexpected victory, the 21-year old Marin became history’s first Spanish woman to have ever been crowned as the World Champion. In men’s singles draw too, the top seed lost the final. The world no. 1 Malaysian Lee Chong Wei was beaten by China’s no. 2 seed Chen Long, 21-19, 21-19. Men’s doubles saw the break in the winning streak of the No.2 seeded South Korean pair, Lee Yong-dae/Yoo Yeon-seong as they were defeated by compatriots and No. 12 seed Ko Sung-hyun/Shin Baek-cheol in three hard-fought games. The mixed doubles and women’s doubles were all-Chinese affairs as has become a trend in recent times.
At the conclusion of the tournament on Sunday, Carolina Marin became a cynosure of all eyes and center of media attraction after she stopped Olympic champion and world No.1 Li Xuerui in a match of unprecedented fluctuations. Li started off well and took the first game 21-17 from the ninth-seeded left-hander without much trouble. The match appeared to be going Li’s way as she led 15-12 in the second game. The Chinese had no inkling of shape of things to come as Marin reeled out five points in a row and completely changed the face of match. With set scores level, Li still had a chance in the decider as she went ahead 15-13. But the Spaniard had sensed a real chance of winning. She raised her game, won three points in a row and kept the pressure on the Chinese. Li won only two more points afterwards as Marin wrapped up the match to win 17-21 21-17 21-18. When Li sent the last shot crashing into the net, Marin dropped herself on the court, lay on her back and couldn’t control her sobs for a while.
Marin’s progress into the tournament was not really smooth. She had a tough second round match against Malaysia’s Jing Yi Tee, who stretched her to three games. In the semifinal, Marin had to contend with India’s No.11 seed PV Sindhu. Though her 21-17, 21-15 over Sindhu does not convey much, the Indian fought hard to put Marin off-guard on several points. Marin was aware that Indian girl could be dangerous since in quarterfinals, Sindhu had upset the No.2 seed Chinese Wang Shixian 19-21, 21-19, 21-15. Sindhu had also beaten No.6 seed Korean Yeon Ju-Bae 19-21, 22-20, 25-23 in a marathon third round match. But without taking any credit away from the Spaniard, it must be stated that Marin’s amazing success came from her great fighting spirit, angularly played overhead smashes, super drop shots and a firm refusal to accept defeat. Her opponent, Li Xuerui, on the other hand, had a smoother passage into the final without dropping a game. Another Indian, No.7 seed, Saina Nehwal met Li in the quarterfinal. But Nehwal couldn’t throw any real challenge to the hard-hitting Li, except giving the Chinese some anxious moments in the second game. But Nehwal went down 15-21, 15-21. With her good form continuing, Li could not have anticipated the fate of the final with Marin.
In the men’s final, No.2 seed from China, Chen Long beat world no. 1 Lee Chong Wei in straight games 21-19 21-19. After losing the first game, Lee trailed by a large margin in the second. But he raised his level and almost reeled back the entire deficit. Chen Long, however, had the tenacity to hold on and he prevented the match going into the decider.
In men’s doubles final, Korean favorites Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong lost to compatriots Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Choel 20-22, 23-21, 18-21. Dae and Seong have been in top form recently and therefore their defeat was as surprising as Carolina Marin’s win in the women’s singles.
The women’s doubles and mixed doubles finals were all-Chinese affairs. Zhao Yunlei/Tian Qing won their 12th successive women’s doubles by beating compatriots Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli 21-19, 21-15. Later Zhao combined with Zhang Nan and also won mixed doubles by defeating another Chinese pair Xu Chen and Ma Jin 21-12, 21-23, 21-13.