Two Chinese pairs continued on their journey to becoming all-time greats as they added a third world title on Sunday to their already impressive resumes.
There was a sense of inevitability to Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong and Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan’s title victories, even though the degree of dominance in their respective categories is not similar.
On Sunday, playing third seeds Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino, Zheng and Huang chalked up a straight-games victory in just 41 minutes, showing how far ahead of the field they are. A day earlier, in their Olympic final rematch against compatriots Wang Yi Lyu/Huang Dong Ping, the top seeds had stormed to a 21-10 win in the third game.
Zheng/Huang have simply stepped up to a stratospheric height, even if they do sometimes come down to earth, as with their second round against Supak Jomkoh/Supissara Paewsampran, which they nearly lost. The milestones continue to fall behind them as they race onwards – this was their seventh title win in succession this season and their 35th match win on the trot.
Watanabe knew the Japanese were simply outplayed by a pair that does not have any discernible weaknesses: “They are too speedy. They are very quick in developing the rallies and we just got pushed by their power.”
For Zheng and Huang, the title in Tokyo carried special significance, for a year ago at Tokyo 2020, they had lost the Olympic final in a surprise result. Their semifinal win over Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping was their third in a row, reaffirmation that the Olympic result was an outlier.
“We’re thrilled,” said Zheng. “It was a tough process to prepare. The win feels just like 2018 when we won our first title.”
As for Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan, the haul of major titles keeps growing. While they are not as dominant in women’s doubles as Zheng/Huang in the mixed, Chen and Jia have become more consistent over the last year. Since losing the title bout of the Olympics, they have won all six finals they featured in, besides last year’s Uber Cup and the Sudirman Cup for their country.
The ease with which they dispatched all opponents, including two-time world champions Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara and Olympic bronze medallists Kim So Yeong/Kong Hee Yong, was indication of their prowess.
“This year the entire China team trained very hard in Thailand,” said Jia Yi Fan. “The support team put in plenty of effort for us. The pressure this year felt greater than on previous occasions.”