The badminton season finally concluded on Sunday with the Finale of the Destination Dubai World Super Series final. Barring the men’s doubles, the deciding matches of the event were sort of anti-climax, but that did not in any way deter the tournament from producing some high quality badminton all through. 2014 being a long, hard season brought some casualties early on in the competition. Indonesia took a “double” blow, and were left between A Rock And A Hard Place, with their Women’s Doubles team of Polii/Maheshwari Krishinda and the Men’s pair-Setiawan/Ahsan retiring in the group stages, with injuries to Krishinda and Ahsan.The Title contenders in the men’s and women’s singles, Son Wan Ho and Wang Yihan also pulled out midway through their group matches,thus bringing an end to their tournaments.
The sheen of the series however, wasn’t really lost, as the rest of the players produced scintillating matches to set the Hamdan Sports Complex on fire. Indian Aces Saina Nehwal and K.Srikanth were at their very best in the group stages. Both players,entered the season-ender high on confidence and morale after their victorious run at the China Open, in turn defeating opponents considered to be of higher caliber, enroute to the semi-finals.
Srikanth beat Japan’s Kento Momota and last year’s runner up Tommy Sugiarto in the first two matches, before going down fighting to Jan O Jorgensen 21-17,12-21,14-21. World No.2 Chen Long however put an end to Srikanth’s amazing run 21-18, 21-9 in the semis. Showing great promise in the early stages, the World No.6 fell short before the Chinese’s greater ability and experience, squandering a 16-10 lead in the first game. Yet, he returns home a proud man. The 21-year-old with a killer jump-smash and celerity across the court, is good enough to give the mighty experienced, a run for their talent.
Saina also extended her good form into the tournament, by maintaining a perfect record in the group stage, beating Wang Shixian, Sung Ji and Bae. The Indian star faced Tai Tzu Ying in the semi-finals, only to fail the Taipei test 21-11, 13-21, 9-21. The long season seemed to be taking its toll on Nehwal, with her pace and judgment failing her badly in the second and third game. But credit cannot be averted from Tai, as she unleashed her repertoire of backhand strokes after the first game, playing delayed flicks and drives at incredible angles,thus catching Saina off-guard. Saina needs to work on her mental focus and fitness if she is aiming at a successful next tournament,
There were a few surprises in the other semi-finals and finals, with Chen Long and Tzu Ying winning the men’s and women’s singles comfortably. Matsutomo/Takahashi pocketed the women’s doubles while Zhang/Zao took home the mixed doubles prize. It was the men’s doubles final, which produced an edge of the seat thriller with Yong Dae/Yeon Seong prevailing over China’s Biao/Hong Wei 19-21, 21-19, 21-16.Destination Dubai as predicted, proved to be a fan’s delight as 2014’s best, came together for 5 days of amazing badminton. This was hopefully a glimpse of what 2015 has in store for the lovers of the game. Here’s hoping the wait is worth it!