Chinese stars earn repeat titles

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Lin Dan capitalized on his signature left-arm firing shots and Taufik Hidayat lost his signature — his cool.

News photoChina’s Zhang Ning returns a shot to compatriot Xie Xingfang during the Yonex Japan Open women’s singles final on Sunday at Yoyogi National Gymnasium. Zhang won 21-11, 16-21, 30-29.
AP PHOTO

Lin dropped the first game as he was overwhelmed by Hidayat’s swift shots, but quickly adjusted to the Indonesian’s play after the second game. The result? He defeated Hidayat 16-21, 21-16, 21-3, in the final of the men’s singles of the Yonex Japan Open at Yoyogi National Gymnasium on Sunday.

“In the first game, Taufik was playing well and it was a fast-tempo game in favor of him,” said Lin, who turned 23 on Saturday. “But after the second game, I tried to play my game and succeeded to do it.”

Hidayat was in good shape in the first game. But he eventually lost his stamina as well as his concentration. While Lin found his touch on his smashing shots in the third game, Hidayat kept making reckless mistakes and ended up with just three points in the game.

“When I built a big lead, it seemed that Taufik already gave up this match,” Lin said.

The Chinese standout won the World Championships in Madrid last month and grabbed the Yonex Open title for the second straight year.

With the come-from-behind win over Hidayat, who is ranked No. 34 in the world rankings but captured gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics and 2005 World Championships, Lin earned 1.72 million yen.

In the women’s singles final, the world’s top two players endured a hard-fought contest.

China’s Zhang Ning became a repeat Yonex Open winner by beating archrival Xie Xingfang 21-11, 16-21, 30-29.

“I’m extremely happy, but I’m so tired,” said the 31-year-old Zhang, who lost to Xie, who is No. 2 in the latest world rankings, in the final of last month’s World Championships.

“Relatively (speaking) I could play as I wanted,” Zhang said. “When the match was see-sawing, I tried to hit the shuttle calming down, because I thought it would cost this game if I lost my focus.”

Also Sunday, Indonesia’s Candra Wijaya and American Tony Gunawan cruised past Keat Kien Koo and Heong Boon Tan of Malaysia, 21-15, 21-14, in the men’s doubles final.

In the women’s doubles final, Gao King and Sui Huang took an all-China match against Wei Yili and Zhang Yawen, posting a 21-15, 21-17 victory.