Asian Leg Review: Great Matches

The three tournaments of the Asian Leg provided the stage for exciting action in January. Here are some of the best matches from Bangkok:

Tai Tzu Ying bt Carolina Marin 14-21 21-8 21-19

(Final, HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2020)

Tai Tzu Ying was a couple of points away from losing her third final in three successive weeks to Carolina Marin. Facing the speed, power and precision of Marin, Tai once again struggled with consistency, and trailed the Spaniard after the mid-game interval in the deciding game. At the very end she unveiled some unreturnable shots to race past her opponent from 17-19 to 21-19 and clinch one of her most memorable titles.

Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan bt Kim So Yeong/Kong Hee Yong 15-21 26-24 21-19

(Final, HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2020)

Shin Seung Chan celebrates at the end of a roller-coaster final.

Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong had everything going for them with four match points in the second game, and a chance to win their second title in a row. They however couldn’t shut the door tight, and Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan stuck their foot in and defied them, saving six match points in total.

Lee and Shin raced off to a 7-1 lead in the third, threatening a demolition job, but Kim and Kong showed great character to get back into the contest. It was neck-and-neck in the final moments, before Lee and Shin converted match point. The match had lasted a marathon 92 minutes.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Ashwini Ponnappa bt Chang Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying 18-21 24-22 22-20

(Quarterfinal, TOYOTA Thailand Open)

Rankireddy and Ponnappa entered their first World Tour Super 1000 semifinal.

An edge-of-the-seat contest in all three games between the fifth-seeded Malaysians and their Indian challengers. Rankireddy and Ponnappa recovered from a desperate position in the second, saved three match points, and then fought off the Malaysians in the thrilling third game to clinch the match on the 75th minute.

Tai Tzu Ying bt Ratchanok Intanon 12-21 21-12 23-21

(Semifinal, TOYOTA Thailand Open)

The two evenly-matched opponents, whose encounters have nearly always been absorbing battles, looked headed Intanon’s way. The Thai had four match points, but her opponent elevated her own game to near-perfection, not giving Intanon a single opening and sending the shuttle to the most difficult corners of the court to emerge victorious.

Anders Antonsen bt Sameer Verma 21-13 19-21 22-20

(Quarterfinal, TOYOTA Thailand Open)

Anders Antonsen was tested by the persistence of Sameer Verma.

Antonsen had looked far from his normal level over the first two weeks of the Asian Leg. Faced with an opponent with the tenacity of Verma, it was going to be a difficult battle for the Dane, and so it proved as Antonsen’s best shots kept getting back. The Dane had to dig deep to edge past Verma, but it had been a bruising, physically intense affair over 81 minutes.

Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus bt Lee Cheuk Yiu 20-22 21-12 21-19

(Quarterfinal, TOYOTA Thailand Open)

Vittinghus had a fairytale run at the TOYOTA Thailand Open, and the quarterfinal with Lee Cheuk Yiu, coming a day after the Dane’s exciting contest with Shesar Hiren Rhustavito, was followed by a lot of Indonesian fans as victory for Vittinghus would mean that Anthony Sinisuka Ginting qualified to the season finale. Lee Cheuk Yiu, true to style, held nothing back in the late stages of the match, unleashing his thunderbolts, but Vittinghus was playing some of his best badminton, and his defence stood up to the challenge. A tense ending saw Lee protest a net kill by Vittinghus that gave him match point, and the Dane didn’t waste that opening by converting on his first opportunity.

Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin bt Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong 21-16 21-23 21-19

(Final, YONEX Thailand Open)

Wang Chi-Lin and Lee Yang celebrate the first of their three title wins.

It was an engaging contest, pitting the skills of Tan and Goh with the speed and power of their younger opponents. The Malaysian veterans staged a great comeback from a game and two match points down to force a decider. Wang and Lee were comfortably placed at 19-13 before Goh and Tan once again narrowed the gap, coming with a point of equalising before the Chinese Taipei duo closed out the contest.

Lee Cheuk Yiu bt Mark Caljouw 13-21 25-23 22-20

(1st Round, TOYOTA Thailand Open)

Mark Caljouw threw everything at Lee Cheuk Yiu, and the Hong Kong China player was frequently on the brink of an early exit, and only some desperate play and slices of luck prevented Lee from falling.

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