Denmark’s newly crowned China Open champion Jan O Jorgensen said he believed Chinese players were still a major force in world badminton despite their failure to win a single title at their home tournament. But he warns that the rest of the world is catching up.
The world number six defeated Olympic champion Chen Long, of China, in the men’s singles final on Sunday as the home players were blanked from the top podium for the first time in 30 years of the tournament.
Jorgensen, who became the first non-Asian to win the event, admitted however that China were still the world’s best and the Fuzhou results may have been a one-off setback.
“This might happen just right after the Olympics as this is always a special time when you can see different players winning tournaments,” said Jorgensen, who was ranked number two earlier this year. “Many top Chinese players went to Rio and still did well in the Olympics. The China Open was my first major victory for more than two years and I won it after beating the Olympic champion. That’s why I was so happy as I was able to take the chance in Fuzhou.
“But this may also be because more countries are coming into badminton and putting pressure on China such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, with Lee Chong Wei, and Japan.
“This is good for the sport as it means badminton is growing to become more professional with more countries playing.”
Lee and his China rival Lin Dan have been dominating the men’s singles competition for much of the past decade but Jorgensen said it was too early to say if they would still be around for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I am sure they will try but don’t know if they would continue that long. It’s a big question,” he said. “I also want to compete against these two top guys as they are wonderful players but even myself, I’m not young anymore after being in the tour for so many years as I will be 29 in a couple of months. It’s hard to say.”
Jorgensen is the highest-ranked singles player in Hong Kong following the withdrawal of top seed Lee and Chen, the second seed.
“I just came from a big win on Sunday and it’s very difficult to maintain a good run for two weeks in a row,” said Jorgensen, who reached the semi-finals in Hong Kong in 2014 but was ousted in the opening round last year at the hands of China’s Wang Zhengming.
The US$400,000 Yonex -Sunrise Hong Kong Open is the last of the 12 superseries tournaments for the year with the top eight in each five disciplines qualifying for the finals in Dubai next month.
While Jorgensen has already secured a berth, Hong Kong’s Wong Wing-ki needs a decent performance at the Coliseum in Hung Hom to earn a place in the final eight. Another Hong Kong player Angus Ng Ka-long is almost certain to qualify despite a first-round defeat in China.
Ng will take on Malaysia’s Zulfadli Zulkiffli in the first round on Wednesday with Wong taking on a qualifier.
In the women’s singles, Rio Olympic champion Carolina Marin, of Spain, is favourite to defend her title after Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, the Rio bronze medallist, pulled out because of an injury sustained in Fuzhou playing against Hong Kong’s Yip Pui-yin.
Marin’s biggest threat in Hong Kong will be India’s Pusarla V Sindhu, whom she beat in the Rio Games final.