China’s Liu, Ou make badminton history at Indonesia Open

Liu Yuchen (L) and Ou Xuanyi of China pose with their medals after their men’s doubles final at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta, Indonesia June 19, 2022. /CFP

Liu Yuchen (L) and Ou Xuanyi of China pose with their medals after their men’s doubles final at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta, Indonesia June 19, 2022. /CFP

Badminton powerhouse China put in an outstanding performance at the 2022 Indonesia Open Championships, winning two gold and two silver medals on Sunday night.

China’s only men’s doubles pair in Jakarta, Liu Yuchen and Ou Xuanyi, defied the odds and bested South Korean duo Choi Sol-gyu and Kim Won-ho 21-17, 23-21 to claim a well-deserved win in one hard-fought game to secure finals.

Liu and Ou had come under tremendous pressure ahead of the tournament after being promoted from the reserve list. However, the world No. 75 pair proved their doubters wrong by beating every higher-ranked opponent they faced and completing a stunning campaign with an unlikely title. The result means they become the first men’s doubles pair from the reserve list to win a Super 1000 title.

China’s Ou Xuanyi (L) and Liu Yuchen in action during their men’s doubles final at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 19, 2022. /CFP

China’s Ou Xuanyi (L) and Liu Yuchen in action during their men’s doubles final at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 19, 2022. /CFP

While Liu and Ou’s triumph was unexpected, China’s top seeded duo Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong’s success in mixed doubles was almost inevitable. The Tokyo Olympic silver medalists extended their winning streak to 20 games by defeating Watanabe Yuta and Higashino Arisa of Japan in a thrilling 21-14, 21-16.

Zheng and Huang have already demonstrated their mastery of offense and coordination over the past few weeks by winning the Badminton Asia Championships, the Thailand Open and the Indonesia Masters. The newly minted title of the Indonesia Open once again reminded the world of the duo’s electrifying quality and resilience.

“This title means a lot to both of us,” Zhang told reporters after the final. “We saw it as a great motivation and it showed that we have what it takes to compete with the best shuttles. The win will also strengthen our confidence as a solid partnership.”

China’s Huang Yaqiong (L) and Zheng Siwei pose with their trophies after winning the mixed doubles title at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta, Indonesia June 19, 2022. /CFP

China’s Huang Yaqiong (L) and Zheng Siwei pose with their trophies after winning the mixed doubles title at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta, Indonesia June 19, 2022. /CFP

Earlier in the day, China’s Zhao Junpeng failed to pull off a great finish after losing to world number one Viktor Axelsen 21-9, 21-10 in the men’s singles final.

It was the Dane’s 27th consecutive win of the year and his 14th World Tour title. The inexperienced Zhao, in his first major final, had no answer to Axelsen’s aggressive play in a game that lasted just 38 minutes.

“I tried to come in aggressively and tried to control the drift as much as possible and counter it a bit. I have a bit of experience in these finals and today I tried to use that,” remarked Axelsen.

Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen (R) and China’s Zhao Junpeng pose with their medals after the men’s singles final at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta, Indonesia June 19, 2022. /CFP

Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen (R) and China’s Zhao Junpeng pose with their medals after the men’s singles final at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta, Indonesia June 19, 2022. /CFP

“I played very well today and followed my game plan. It feels great; it’s hard to describe how happy and proud I feel,” he added. “I’m really proud of how I’ve come through in every single game and put in a performance over the past two weeks. It’s not easy to play at this level for consecutive weeks, so I’m happy about that.

“I’ve just tried to stay consistent with what I’m doing and what I know works for me, I’m trying to improve step by step every day and it’s paying off.”

Zhao’s compatriot Wang Zhiyi also fell at the final hurdle after defeating Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei 21-23, 21-6, 21-15 in the women’s final.

Wang Zhiyi of China competes in the women’s singles final at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta, Indonesia on June 19, 2022. /CFP

Wang Zhiyi of China competes in the women’s singles final at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta, Indonesia on June 19, 2022. /CFP

Despite failing to complete an upset, 22-year-old Wang was a revelation for China at the Indonesia Open. Exuding a maturity that belies her age, the unseeded youngster managed to outclass reigning world champion Akane Yamaguchi and fellow Chinese player He Bingjiao on her way to the final.

Second-placed Tai, who eventually bounced back to win the title after losing the first set, also praised the promising Chinese talent.

“Wang played with very good ball control,” she said. “I’m very happy to be at the top.”

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