Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino’s stunning Yonex All England Open victory saw them vault 26 places into the top ten of the HSBC Race to Guangzhou rankings.
The Japanese (featured image), whose title victory marked the first All England Mixed Doubles title for a pair from their nation, added 12,000 points from their career-best performance in March to accumulate 19,190 points, placing them seventh in the rankings list.
Eight events in the new HSBC BWF World Tour have been completed over the first three months. These include: the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters, the Perodua Malaysia Masters, the Daihatsu Indonesia Masters and the Yonex-Sunrise Dr. Akhilesh Das Gupta India Open in January; the Yonex Swiss Open in February; and the Yonex German Open, Yonex All England Open and the Orleans Masters in March.
Malaysia dominate the top ten rankings with three pairs sitting pretty. Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai, winners of the German Open and semi-finalists at the Malaysia Masters and Indonesia Masters, lead the table with 27,880 points.
Another Malaysian pair, Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying, are in fifth place with 20,730 points; the Malaysians having got off to a fine start this year by winning the season-opening Thailand Masters, and making the quarter-finals at the Malaysia Masters.
Their compatriots Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing are in ninth place with 18,350 points; Tan and Lai’s best performances so far have been quarter-final finishes in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Meanwhile, China’s Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong, who made the finals of all three events they played in, are close behind the leaders with 27,200 points. The Chinese suffered rare defeats in the finals in Malaysia (to Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet) and England (to Watanabe/Higashino), on either side of a title victory at the Indonesia Masters over local stars Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir.
In third place are Danes Mathias Christiansen/Christinna Pedersen, who won the India Open beating Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti in the final. The Danes also made the semi-finals of the All England, boosting their tally to 24,800 points.
Not far behind are Indonesians Jordan/Oktavianti, who, besides the runners-up finish in India, made the quarter-finals of the German Open and the All England.
In sixth are Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet, who started the year well winning the Malaysia Masters, but since then have had modest returns.
Indonesia’s Hafiz Faisal/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (No.8) – semi-finalists in Malaysia – and Netherlands duo Jacco Arends/Selena Piek – quarter-finalists at the Thailand Masters and the Yonex Swiss Open – complete the top ten.
India’s Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy are just outside the top ten with 16,190 points, thanks largely to their semi-final finish on home soil.
Following behind the Indians are Korea’s Seo Seung Jae/Kim Ha Na; Denmark’s Niclas Nohr/Sara Thygesen; Korea’s Choi Solgyu/Chae Yu Jung and England’s Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith. Niclas Nohr and Sara Thygesen won the Orleans Masters on Sunday and the 5,500 points they gained should see them enter the top ten in Thursday’s rankings.
Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir have played just two events this year. The reigning World and Olympic champions were runners-up at the Indonesia Masters and fell in the second round of the All England; with 12,600 points, they are in 19th place.