China splits up the dream World No. 1 and No. 2 mixed doubles pairs

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Good luck to Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong (left) on their new partnerships with other players. (photo: AP)
Good luck to Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong (left) on their new partnerships with other players. (photo: AP)

Beijing: While a lot of countries are often left desperately scrambling for badminton talents but often manifest in disappointments, the badminton powerhouse China which already produced a pool of world class badminton talents, however, has decided to split up the World No. 1 mixed doubles pair Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen and World No. 2 pair Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong.

According to Chinese media, despite the pairs’ strong performances in international tournaments after the Rio Olympics, especially by winning 5 out of 6 Superseries titles in the first half of 2017, the main reason behind their split was due to the two pairs have consistently underachieve at major tournaments such as Sudirman Cup and World Championships.

In the 2017 Sudirman Cup semi-final tie against Japan that was held in May, in Gold Coast, Australia, Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen were defeated by Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino 12-21, 21-14, 21-19, while Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong were outlasted by Choi Sol-gyu/Chae Yoo-jung 17-21, 13-21 in the Sudirman Cup final against Korea, and many had blamed them for their failures of winning the deciding match for China.

After Sudirman Cup, Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong were knocked out by Lee Chun Hei/Chau Hoi Wah of Hong Kong in the quarter-finals of World Championships in August, while Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen fought hard against Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia in the final, but the Indonesians had the last laugh by winning their second World Championship title with 15-21, 21-16, 21-15 victory against Zheng/Chen.

This move by Chinese Badminton Association which previously considered temporary but are now deemed permanent. Zheng Siwei will partner Huang Yaqiong in the Macau Open (Nov 7 – Nov 12), while Lu Kai will start his new partnership with Tang Jinhua at the China Open that will be held (Nov 14 – Nov 19).

In addition to these two pairs, Olympic champion Zhang Nan also ending his partnership with Li Yinhui in mixed doubles. Zhang will be paired with 17-year-old Liu Xuan Xuan at China Open.

Both the World No. 1 and No. 2 pairs will still be playing together with their existing partners in the upcoming Denmark (Oct 17 – Oct 22) and French Open (Oct 24 – Oct 29).

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