Asian powerhouses China, Indonesia and India once again stamped their authority booking 24 slots in the finals of the 2nd Fazza-Dubai Para Badminton International here, that will played on Sunday.
For China, who are participating in big numbers unlike the past year, the participation was important in terms of Tokyo 2020 qualification points. And they are happy to have continued the same run of form from the Turkish International.
Their star players, Cheng Hefang and Qu Zimao, both world champions, have entered two finals each in women’s doubles SL3- SU5 and mixed doubles WH1-WH2, besides their singles events. “I want to win every match and grow confident in the road to Tokyo 2020,” the 19-year-old Zimao told Asian Paralympic Committee.
Zimao had shocked second seed South Korean Lee Seop Sam 21-10, 21-9 in the men’s singles WH1 semi-finals and will meet his nemesis, also from Korea, Choi Jung Man in the final.
Meanwhile, Lin Naili and Luo Guangliang pulled off an upset with a 21-19, 21-16 win over No. 1 seeds Vitor Gonçalves Tavares of Brazil and USA’s Miles Krajewski in men’s doubles SS6 semi-final.
In the women’s event, both Zhang Jing and Yin Menglu stole the show defeating top ranked players to book a face-off on Sunday. In what was one of the exciting matches of the day, Jing had shocked top seed Valeska Knoblauch by an impressive scoreline that reads 17-21, 21-15, 21-15.
Hefang will meet her nemesis Indonesia no. 1 Leani Ratri Oktila, and predicted that: “It will be a tough match.”
Meanwhile in women’s singles WH2, it will also be an all-Chinese affair between Liu Yutong and Li Hongyan.
Ratri Oktila in three finals
As promised, Ratri Oktila has made it to three finals—she had team up with Hary Susanto and Khalimatus Sadiyah Sukohandoko for the mixed doubles and women’s doubles competitions.
“I am very happy and I hope I can win three gold tomorrow,” said the 27-year-old Asian Para Games winner in doubles events.
In total, Indonesians have entered in six finals with their doubles’ stars Hary Susanto, Dwiyoko, Fredy Setiawan, Dheva Anrimusthi and Suryo Nugroho advancing in their respective events in the day.
“It’s difficult to play against Indonesians. We know each other’s game and are friends outside the court,” added Ratri Oktila who alongwith Susanto had defeated compatriots Setiawan and Sukhohandoko, her women’s doubles partner, 25-23, 21-15 in mixed doubles SL3-SU5 semi-finals.
There were upsets too as Setiawan lost to his Indian nemesis Tarun Tarun 15-21, 14-21 in a repeat of the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games finals. Now, World no.1 Lucas Mazur awaits Tarun in the final. Both of them have been the finalist at the 2017 World Championships.
Mazur, who had also reached the final of the SL3-SU5 mixed doubles event, later said it will be an “interesting match” with Tarun being one of his toughest competitors of late.
India’s Nagar shocks World no. 1
However, the biggest upset of the day came in the evening session, when India’s Krishna Nagar shocked World no. 1 Jack Shepherd in straight games 21-16, 21-14 after some attacking rallies.
“I have beaten him in the Turkish International final so I was confident that I could do it again. I hope I can convert the silver in Turkey with a gold medal here,” said Nagar who meets another English player Krysten Coombs in the final.
Otherwise, India had a good outing at the Dubai meet with their seven players reaching the final.
In the women’s SL3, it will be an all-Indian affair with Parul Parmer facing off Manshi Joshi for the title, while Japanese top seed Ayako Suzuki taking on Chinese Yang Qiuxia in women’s singles SU5 summit clash.
Elsewhere, top stars including Indian Pramod Bhagat, Korean Kim Jungjun, Malaysian Like Hou Cheah and Chan Ho Yeun from Hong Kong all advancing. Jungjun was infact lucky to survive a scare from his fellow Korean Kim Kyung Hoon as he rallied to win 15-21, 21-9, 21-18 in men’s singles WH2 event.