An overview of the Mixed Doubles qualifiers at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2018.
1. Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong (China)
Struck up a stunning vein of form, particularly in the second half of the year when they steamrolled all opposition on their way to the World Championships gold, the Asian Games gold, and victories at the Japan Open, French Open, Denmark Open and the two China Opens – a stunning sequence of seven titles with the sole blip being a first round loss in Korea. Overall, the Chinese (featured image) were in 11 finals, of which they won all but two.
2. Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino (Japan)
After displaying mediocre form last year and early this year, the Japanese suddenly upped their game, winning the All England beating all expectations. Having overcome several top pairs on the way – including Zheng/Huang in the final – Watanabe/Higashino were in focus, but they couldn’t replicate the same form. They did well in Malaysia and Japan, reaching the semi-finals, but it was only late in the year that they once again found form, winning the Hong Kong Open.
3. Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Thailand)
Among the pairs that didn’t have many exploits to boast of, but who were yet quietly consistent. Semifinalists in Singapore, Korea and Hong Kong, the Thai pair’s best performance came at the Denmark Open, where they made the final.
4. Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying (Malaysia)
Started the year brightly, winning the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters. Had a pretty inconsistent year, with several early exits, but had some encouraging results mid-season by winning the US Open and finishing runners-up in Australia and Indonesia.
5. Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping (China)
Were one of the standout pairs of the year, winning the Asian Championships and making five finals, including the World Championships. If they didn’t finish with more titles, it was essentially due to their compatriots Zheng/Huang, who turned out to be their nemeses, winning all six clashes this year. Wang/Huang lost title bouts in Malaysia, Japan, China and Hong Kong, apart from Nanjing, but their consistency means China have a bankable second pair after Zheng/Huang.
6. Hafiz Faizal/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (Indonesia)
Promised much with the Thailand Open victory mid-season, where they beat Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock in the final, but couldn’t build on that success. Their other notable performances were reaching the semi-finals of the Malaysia Masters and the Indonesia Open, apart from quarterfinals at the All England, the Korea Open and the Hong Kong Open.
7. Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai (Malaysia)
The Malaysians had two big results to be proud of – they won the German Open early in the year and the Singapore Open mid-season. Having beaten the likes of Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping in Indonesia, Puavaranukroh/Taerattanachai in Germany, Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir in Singapore and He Jiting/Du Yue in Japan, Goh and Lai will be optimistic of greater success in time to come.
8. Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith (England)
Needed to make the semi-finals of the final qualifying event – the Scottish Open – to qualify for the World Tour Finals. The England pair went a step further by winning the title and clinching the eighth spot. Ellis and Smith built on their 2017 performance, winning the Canada Open, the Dutch Open, the SaarLorLux Open and the Scottish Open, and finishing runners-up in Switzerland and Spain. A high point was the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games.