China took three of five titles on offer at the Yonex All England Badminton Championships this weekend. The women’s singles and doubles finals were both China vs. Japan — China’s Wang Shixian prevailed in the singles, and doubles team Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang walked over their opponents, winning 21-2, 21-9. In the mixed doubles final, Xu Chen and Ma Jin soundly their Indonesian opponents.
Aside from mixed doubles, China’s men were shut out; Lee Chong Wei took down Lin Dan in the singles final, and the men’s doubles were won by Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogenson.
The Chinese team drew some criticism from their peers. Denmark’s Tine Baun, a two-time All England champion, was outspoken about no-show Wang Yihuan, who flouted a Premier Series rule that requires players to appear at series competitions even if they are not competing. Baun, herself out with a heel injury, didn’t seem to buy the excuse that Wang’s injury prevented her from flying, and therefore she shouldn’t have to pay the series-mandated $5,000 fine.
Baun also criticised Chinese players’ habit of dropping out when scheduled to face top-seeded compatriots. China has been accused of the practice in the past, giving their best athletes rest for later rounds. In women’s singles, Liu Xun pulled out due to a toe infection rather than face eventual champion Wang, and Li Xuerui claimed back pain when she played her way to a match against Wang Xin.
Liu Xin withdrew after getting through to meet the top-seeded Wang Shixian, and then Li Xuerui similarly withdrew after earning a meeting with her third-seeded compatriot Wang Xin.
“It’s not that common that Chinese pull out of a tournament but they often pull out against each other,” Baun said, according to several news reports (AFP via Times of India). “I think it gives players of one country an advantage later on in the tournament and I think it’s unfair.”
View video of Baun’s comments on no-shows and deference to high-seeded teammates here.