Badminton Life

Hong Kong's Zhou Reigns in Sabah

Hong Kong's Zhou Mi ended the year on a triumphant note when she beat compatriot Wang Chen 21-14, 21-18 to win the women's singles title at the BWF Super Series Masters Finals in Kota Kinabalu.

Zhou, the former China international who was famously commanded to lose a match at the 2004 Athens Olympics, justified her top seeding and the world number one ranking she acquired more than a month ago.

It was also revenge against Wang, who had beaten Zhou during the preliminary competition.

Zhou was with the Chinese national team at the Athens Olympics when she was told that she should lose a semi-final to compatriot Zhang Ning, who the coaches thought would have a better chance of winning the gold.

Zhang did eventually triumph but a disconsolate Zhou quit badminton and moved to Hong Kong under the former British colony's scheme to attract talented people from mainland China.

She became eligible to represent Hong Kong soon after the Beijing Olympics and quickly rose to number one in the world.

Zhou said a relaxed approach helped her to win the title.

She said: "I think there has been a shift in perspective for me, I've been taking a very relaxed and laid-back approach to the game since making my comeback and I'm just enjoying my love for the game now.

"It is great to be able to end this year on such a high, I am very happy. I want to congratulate my opponent as well. I trust that we have put on an exciting display for the crowd."

Despite losing 21-12, 21-15 to Wang in Group A, Zhou managed to finish second with victories over Japan's Yu Hirayama, 21-4, 21-11, and German fifth seed Xu Huaiwen, 21-11, 21-16.

In the semi-finals, she came up against Denmark's All England champion Tine Rasmussen, whom she beat 21-13, 21-16 to set up her final encounter with Wang.

Meanwhile, Wang had a much more difficult time in her semi-final, needing three games to beat rising Indian teenager Saina Nehwal 15-21, 21-14, 21-16.

This was after Wang had finished top of her group with wins over Zhou, Hirayama and Xu, the latter two requiring three games.

Nehwal's only Group B loss was to Rasmussen, but she reached the semi-finals thanks to victoris over France's Pi Hongyan and Malaysian Wong Mew Choo.

The 18-year-old has truly come of age in global badminton this year and is seen as one of the few players who can challenge the mighty Chinese in the future.

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