World champs Chen Long, Carolina Marin ousted in day of shocks
Chen, who has won seven Super Series tournaments this year, was beaten for the first time by Viktor Axelsen.
Dubai: Both world singles champions, Chen Long and Carolina Marin, were beaten in straight games Saturday on a day when the 2015 form-book was torn up in the Super Series finals n Dubai.
Chen, who has won seven Super Series tournaments this year, was beaten for the first time by Viktor Axelsen, the improving world number six from Denmark, only briefly showing his best form when he reached 17-15 in the second game before losing 21-12, 21-17.
Marin, who has won five major titles in her finest ever year, was beaten 21-11, 21-12, by Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, a result which was perhaps a little less surprising because it was the second time in 24 hours that it happened.
The conditions in Dubai are slow and Marin`s attacking game was unable to make much impact against a superbly mobile opponent who consistently got the shuttle back.
It suited Okuhara so much she may start Sunday`s women`s singles final with an even chance of taking her first major title.
Chen however was by his standards sluggish and error-prone. He also allowed himself to be tied up at the net quite a lot by the canny Axelsen, who knew this was the best way of frustrating his tall opponent`s long reach in defence and steep counter-attacks.
"I didn`t play so well today," Chen admitted. "I didn`t have good fortune and my opponent played better than I did. But I am very happy about my performance for most of the year." He already had an eye on his preparation for the Olympics, he half-admitted.
He may not have been quite as happy at any tme as Axelsen appeared to be after this, his first win over Chen, and by far the biggest of his career. He ran around in small circles and later acknowledged that he was "overwhelmed".
"My game was to stay as relaxed as possible, to enjoy it and to play with variation - and therefore to try to smile." He will have made new friends by doing that.
Axelsen was due to play in the final the winner between his compatriot Jan Jorgensen and Kento Momota, the Thomas Cup hero from Japan. Okuhara`s opponent will be the winner between two former world champions, Wang Yihan of China and Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.
Earlier Chris and Gabby Adcock, the husband and wife from England, who seem to take adversity in their stride, achieved arguably their finest performance together when they reached the final of the mixed doubles.
The Adcocks did that with a 21-17, 22-20 win over Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto of Indonesia, after being behind for much of the first game and then facing trouble again when their four-point second game lead evaporated into a 16-17 deficit.
It followed their great comeback from 15-17 down in the final game in their final group match yesterday against Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah of Hong Kong when they were close to exiting the tournament.
Fighting qualities and tactical nous have characterised their exceptional performances which have also seen them beat Tontowi Ahmad and Lilyana Natsir, the former world champions from Indonesia.
The Adcocks will tomorrow face in the final Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na the world`s sixth ranked pair from Korea, who may start slight favourites.