Give her two years and rising Chinese women’s doubles specialist Chen Qingchen may be as good as the great mainlanders who once dominated the world of badminton.
Despite her age, the 19-year-old from Guangdong province has been hailed as the new star of world powerhouses China, having captured four superseries titles this year prior to the final stop on the calendar in Hong Kong, where she is still in contention for more silverware.
“I am improving but still lack the exposure of the previous generation of players at the highest level,” said the youngster. “I would love to achieve the same degree of success as them but still need a bit of time.
“Give me two years and then I should be there – the world championship in both the mixed doubles and women’s doubles are my targets and also the team events of Sudirman Cup and Uber Cup.”
Chen won the Australia Open in June with her partner Bao Yixin in the doubles and triumphed again at last month’s French Open, combining with another partner Jia Yifan and defeating Olympic champions and the world’s number one pair Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi, of Japan, on the way.
In the mixed doubles, Chen partnered Zheng Siwei to win the Japan Open and French Open. On both occasions, they relegated world number one pair Ko Sung-Hyun and Kim Ha-na, of South Korea, into second place.
China failed to sweep the badminton gold medals at the Rio Olympics but might have done better had Chen taken part. But she was late to the party.
“I wasn’t part of the plan when they drafted the squad for the Olympics and that’s why I didn’t take part in sufficient tournaments to gain the qualification,” she said. “ But I will definitely work for Tokyo four years later to resume our quest for honours at the Olympic Games.”
In the immediate future, Chen is challenging for a place in the superseries finals in Dubai next month. “I have never been to the finals before so I’m definitely motivated to be there,” she said.
She and Zheng are fourth in the mixed doubles rankings with the top eight pairs eligible for Dubai. In the women’s doubles, they were eighth before the Hong Kong leg and should be ensured of a place after beating the seventh-ranked pair, mainland sisters Luo Ying and Luo Yu, in the second round on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Yip Pui-yin put up a brave fight against world and Rio Games champion Carolina Marin, of Spain, in the women’s singles before losing her second-round tie 21-18, 21-16.
“I did very well in the first game, according to my plan, and the result was not too disappointing,” said the 29 year-old, who is now the oldest women’s singles player competing on the tour. “The Spaniard has the power and the speed as you can tell from her achievements and it’s not easy for any player, but today I did push her well with great patience.”
Despite failing to reach the knockout stage at the Rio Olympics, Yip said she had rediscovered her love of the game and would set the Tokyo Olympic Games in four years as her next major target.