The annual Yonex-Sunrise India Open tournament has acquired an added importance after BWF upgraded its status from Grand Prix Gold to Super Series in 2011. For this reason, world’s top men and women badminton players make it a ritual to visit Delhi around this time every year. Except for some last minute withdrawals, the who’s who of the world of badminton presented themselves in the $250,000 event. After the qualifying rounds early; the main tournament was played during April 2-6, 2014 at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium in the Indian capital. The tournament concluded yesterday with some fine performances from world’s top shuttlers.
Last year’s women’s champion and world no.4, Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand withdrew at the last moment for medical reasons. There were other players, who couldn’t come this year were; Indonesia’s world no.4 Tommy Sugiarto, Japan’s world no.3 Kenichi Tago and Thailand’s world no.6 Boonsak Ponsana. But the tournament was graced by the defending champion and men’s world no.1 player, the indomitable Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, world no.2 Chinese Chen Long, world no.5 Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen, world no.7 Wang Zhengming and world no.9 Du Pengyu, both from China. There are other highly ranked men’s players in the tournament, some of whom are; Kento Momota from Japan, Hans Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark, Suppanyu Avihingsanon of Thailand and Tien Chen Chou of Chinese Taipei. The women single’s draw included the top three Chinese players in the world, Li Xuerui, Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan and many others. India’s top men and women players, many of whom skipped the previous week’s Malaysian Grand Prix Gold just to be in a better state of preparedness were also seen in action.
In the finals concluded on Sunday April 6, the last match was the men’s singles. It was another classic between the two greats in the game, Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long and a repeat of their All-England final match. Chen Long didn’t play badly but the class of Chong Wei was a treat to watch. The Malaysian won 21-13, 21-17 but the score-line is deceptive, since both players produced their best performances. The women’s singles was an-all Chinese affair between no.1 and no. 2 seeds in the tournament, Li Xuerui and Wang Shixian. The two players were equally matched but Wang Shixian prevailed in the end 22-20, 21-19. It was a very satisfactory tournament for Denmark shuttlers, as they won two of the three doubles’ tournaments. In the men’s doubles, Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen thwarted a stiff challenge from the Chinese duo of Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan. The match went to three sets, before the Danes won 17-21, 21-15, 21-15. Even tougher was the mixed doubles final, in which the Danish pair of Joachim Fischer Nielson and Christinna Pederson fought a hard battle with the Korean duo of Ko Sung-hyun and Kim Ha-na. The Danes finally won 21-16, 18-21, 21-18 but with fortunes fluctuating all through the match, any pair could have won yesterday. China’s Tang Yuanting and Yu Yang won the women’s doubles against the Koreans, Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na in another close contest with the final score reading 21–10, 13–21, 21–16.
On day one, India’s P Kashyap had caused an upset by beating the Chinese world no.7 Wang Zhengming but PV Sindhu, who had recently beaten world no. 2 Wang Shixian in the Swiss Open couldn’t her repeat her feat. The 18-year old Indian went down fighting to the ultimate champion 15-21, 21-12, 10-21. On the second day, India’s ace shuttlers, Saina Nehwal and P Kashyap reached quarterfinals. In all her previous appearances since the tournament was accorded Super Series status in 2011, Saina had never been able to cross round two. She broke the jinx with a straight set 21-15, 21-12 victory over Thailand’s Natcha Saengchote to enter the quarterfinals. But Saina and Kashyap lost their quarterfinal matches to their formidable opponents next day. While Kashyap lost to the ultimate champion Lee Chong Wei 15-21, 13-21, Saina was eliminated by the Chinese no. 3 seed Wang Yihan 21-16, 21-14.
In making his progress until the semifinal, Lee Chong Wei beat three Indians en route. In the first round he outplayed K Ajay Kumar 21-9, 21-9, in the second; he defeated Saurabh Verma, the finalist in the Malaysian Grand Prix Gold tournament last week. Chong Wei won 21-9, 21-6 in 23 minutes and then Chong Wei beat Kashyap in the quarterfinal.