Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters 2016 , the third Grand Prix Gold tournament of the circuit witnessed a decline in the number of seeded (World) player participation, the main reason being the preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics. With only one GP Gold tournament this month, players took the month off the circuit and continued their preps for the All England Open Badminton Championship (due next month), to boost their points as well as the chance for making the cut into the automatic qualification places for Rio , as the All England is a Premier Super Series event. Still there were many talented shuttlers present at the Nimibutr Stadium in Bangkok to showcase their talent. So who won the tournament? Who made a step forward in the Olympic race? Lets find out.
The final of XD was contested by two pairs who were looking to win their first GP Gold title. It was the young guns from China, Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen who got the better of the more experienced team from Malaysia, Chan and Goh (7th seed) in two straight games 21-17 21-15. The juniors from China have had a dream of a tournament, in which they not only clinched their first title as a pair but also defeated the number one seeds Ko and Kim from Korea in the QFs. Well, it is rightly said, “A player must never be judged by his ranking, but by the performance they show on the field that day”. And that is just what the World No. 68s proved right.
Women’s Doubles :
Women’s Doubles has been dominated by China for quite some time now. In an all Chinese Final, it was the current Olympic Champions and the third seeds, Tiang and Zhao who defeated fifth seeded Tang and Yu in three tough games 11-21 21-12 23-21. This was probably the best of the Finals witnessed by the crowd. Having gone a game down in just 15 mins, the Olympic champions came out with a stunning display. Zhao lead the chase, playing some great shots at the net. With Olympics edging closer, this is the just the type of victory the Chinese Duo wanted.
Men’s Doubles :
One of the most anticipated matches of the Finals Day was the Men’s Doubles Finals. The first seeds and current World Champions, Ahsan and Setiawan (Indonesia) took on the Asian Games Gold Medalists, Kim and Kim (Korea). In a match that lasted 43 mins and witnessed smashes being hit over 350 km/hr, it was the World Champions that won in three tough sets 12-21 21-15 21-12. Having struggled last year to perform upto their standards set in 2014, this was a welcome victory for the World Champions, who have now almost booked their automatic qualification spot for the Rio Olympics.
Women’s Singles :
2016 has seen Ratchanok Intanon reach the heights which her talent promised to reach when she became the youngest ever World Champion. Since winning the World title, it has been a downward slide in Ratchanok’s game. But the 2nd half of the 2015 circuit saw the rise of the promising star. In a tough three game Final, Intanon stomped her authority on her opponent Sun Yu (China) with her delicate net play and fast flicks, winning 21-19 18-21 21-17 and earning much deserved tournament points.
Men’s Singles :
Some would say that finishing 4th in an Olympics is a great achievement, but some say it’s missing out on a Medal. Four years ago, Lee Hyun Il, conquered all odds and qualified for the London Olympics, having missed most of 2011 due to a recurring knee injury. The Korean finished 4th, and just the missed out on the podium. Being the fighter that he is, the Korean did not give up on his Olympic dream. Now 35, Lee became the oldest player ever to win the Thailand GP Gold when he defeated 3rd seeded Hu Yun (Hong Kong) 21-18 21-19 .
With no other major tournaments this month (other than the European Team Championships), players are busy preparing for the Olympics. The next GP Gold is the German Open , which is followed by the legendary All England Badminton Championships. The race hots up from here with only 2 months left. Who’ll make the cut? Keep following and Keep Smashing Hard!!