Canada’s Michelle Li became the first singles player from the Pan Am region to qualify for the season finale, in its current version as the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2018.
The Markham native (featured image) qualified in seventh place in Women’s Singles on the HSBC Race To Guangzhou Rankings.
The by-invitation HSBC BWF World Tour Finals features the top eight players and pairs on the World Tour in the calendar year. Two doubles players from Pan Am – Canada’s Charmaine Reid and USA’s Tony Gunawan – had qualified for previous season finales, then known as the World Superseries Masters Finals. Reid had qualified with Germany’s Nicole Grether in 2008 and 2009 in Women’s Doubles, while Gunawan had qualified with Indonesia’s Candra Wijaya in Men’s Doubles in 2008.
The eight qualifiers in all five events were finalised after the final qualifying tournaments – the Syed Modi International Badminton Championships and the Scottish Open that both concluded on Sunday 25 November 2018.
Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying, winner of six World Tour titles this year, topped the Women’s Singles HSBC Race To Guangzhou Rankings.
Carolina Marin Withdraws
Spain’s Carolina Marin, who had automatic qualification as World champion, withdrew due to injury.
Sayaka Takahashi, ranked ninth, was not invited as two Japanese players – Nozomi Okuhara (No.2) and Akane Yamaguchi (No.3) qualified ahead of her. Only two players per member association can qualify in each category.
The player next in line, He Bingjiao (China), also could not accept the invitation due to injury. USA’s Beiwen Zhang has now been invited. If the invitation is accepted, Zhang will join Michelle Li in making history for the continental confederation as the only two singles players from Pan Am to qualify to the season finale.
In fourth place is China’s Chen Yufei, who won her first major event at the Fuzhou China Open, while Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, winner of the Malaysia Masters, qualified in fifth place. India’s Pusarla V Sindhu, runner-up in India and Thailand, qualified in sixth place.
Chou Tops Men’s Singles
The consistent Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei), winner of three World Tour events, topped the Men’s Singles HSBC Race To Guangzhou Rankings, while World champion Kento Momota (Japan) finished second.
Veteran Tommy Sugiarto, the senior-most among Indonesia’s Men’s Singles contenders, impressively qualified in third, ahead of All England champion Shi Yuqi (China).
The resurgent Son Wan Ho (Korea), who won the Hong Kong Open, and Kantaphon Wangcharoen (Thailand) are fifth and sixth respectively. India’s Sameer Verma’s last-gasp victory at the Syed Modi International helped him climb to seventh spot, just ahead of second Indonesian qualifier Anthony Ginting, who won the Victor China Open.
Among prominent names to miss out are Olympic champion Chen Long and five-time world champion Lin Dan, India’s Kidambi Srikanth and Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen.
Yuta Watanabe is the only player to qualify in two events.
Watanabe won the All England and the Hong Kong Open with Arisa Higashino, and the Mixed Doubles duo finished second in the HSBC Race To Guangzhou Rankings.
Watanabe also qualified in Men’s Doubles with Hiroyuki Endo; their biggest triumph this season being the Korea Open in September. Interestingly, Endo and Watanabe qualified in seventh place at the expense of their more accomplished compatriots Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda, who fell short by just 290 points.
Indonesia’s Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo – winners of eight World Tour titles this year, the highest haul for any player or pair – are the top qualifiers in Men’s Doubles. Following them are two Chinese Taipei pairs – Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin and Liao Min Chun/Su Ching Heng.
China’s young pair Han Chengkai/Zhou Haodong, French Open winners, qualified ahead of all their compatriots in fourth place. The only other Chinese pair that qualified – No.10 Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen – made the cut thanks to their status as world champions.
Denmark’s Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, winners of the Victor China Open, and Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan have qualified in fifth and sixth place respectively.
The phenomenally successful Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong, world champions and winners of seven World Tour titles, lead the Mixed Doubles rankings list, ahead of Watanabe/Higashino.
Olympic silver medallists Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying (Malaysia) and Asian champions Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping (China) are fourth and fifth respectively.
Thailand Open winners Hafiz Faizal/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (Indonesia) and Singapore Open champions Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai (Malaysia) secured the sixth and seventh spots.
England’s Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith needed a semifinal finish at the Scottish Open to qualify; they went one better, winning the title and assuring themselves of the invitation to Guangzhou.
There was a scramble among Japanese pairs in Women’s Doubles, with five ranking in the top ten. World Championships silver medallists Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota, winners of five World Tour events, led the standings until the final qualifying week, but Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi supplanted them at the top after playing the first round of the Syed Modi International.
The other Japanese spot went to world champions Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara.
Thailand Open winners Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu (Indonesia); Thailand Masters winners Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajongjai (Thailand) and Fuzhou China Open winners Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan (Korea) qualified behind the two Japanese pairs.
Bulgaria’s Stoeva sisters, Stefani and Gabriela, jumped to sixth spot after winning the Scottish Open. The two remaining places were taken by two Chinese pairs – Asian Games champions Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan, and Du Yue/Li Yinhui.
Click here for list of qualifiers (highlighted in yellow)