Chen, Tai win Asia C'ships on 7th try

Olympic champion Chen Long celebrating his victory in the Badminton Asia Championships yesterday. It was his first title since winning at the Rio Games last year.
Olympic champion Chen Long celebrating his victory in the Badminton Asia Championships yesterday. It was his first title since winning at the Rio Games last year.PHOTO: XINHUA

WUHAN • Reigning Olympic men's singles champion Chen Long and women's world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying were in seventh heaven yesterday after winning their first Badminton Asia Championships gold medals.

Chen overcame fellow Chinese Lin Dan 21-23, 21-11, 21-10, claiming the last two games with surprising ease for his first title since last year's Rio de Janeiro Games.

The two shuttlers were in top form in the first game, when the second-seeded Chen was given a thorough workout by the two-time Olympic champion.

But he still managed to conjure two game points, only to see Lin level proceedings at 20-20 and 21-21.

Lin, who took out world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in the semi-finals, then took the opener with his first opportunity.

But the 33-year-old began to make more mistakes in the following games and fell after 80 minutes.

"This is my seventh Asia Championships and I eventually took the gold medal. It's too difficult," said Chen after winning one of the few major tournaments to have eluded him.

The 28-year-old has three silvers and three bronzes from six previous appearances at these championships.

Like Chen, Tai managed to find a breakthrough at the seventh time of asking. Since making her debut at this annual tournament in 2011, her best result was a bronze in 2015.

Yesterday, the Chinese Taipei star struck gold after defeating Japan's Akane Yamaguchi 18-21, 21-11, 21-18.

Victory also marked her sixth straight title as she continued to prove her dominance since winning the Hong Kong Open last November.

She also prevailed at the Dubai Superseries Final last December, the All England Open in March, and last month's Malaysia Open and Singapore Open.

Chinese pair Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong are also on a roll. Their stellar season showed no sign of slowing down as they overcame an early 0-6 deficit to beat Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand 21-18, 21-11 in the mixed doubles final.

The All England Open champions have made the finals of each of the six tournaments they have played this year, starting with the German Open, and clinched four titles.

"The title in All England Open made us much more confident than before," explained Lu.

In the final of the men's doubles, sixth seeds Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen of China sailed past their team-mates Huang Kaixiang and Wang Yilyu 21-14, 21-12.

Japan's world No. 1 pairing of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi won the women's doubles crown by beating Hye Rin Kim and Yoo Hae Won of South Korea 21-19, 16-21, 21-10.

XINHUA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2017, with the headline 'Chen, Tai win Asia C'ships on 7th try'. Print Edition | Subscribe