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China doubles walkover angers fans

Lu and Huang’s withdrawal from S’pore Open final a repeat of 2011 incident, also involving Chinese
By Adelene Wong

Published 4:16 AM, April 13, 2015

Updated 4:16 AM, April 13, 2015

SINGAPORE — A number of fans who bought tickets to the final day of the OUE Singapore Open were left fuming yesterday after the last-minute withdrawals of world No 6 mixed-doubles pair Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong.
The final between Chinese pairs, world No 1 Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, and Lu and Huang, was expected to start at 1pm at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday. But instead, Zhang and Zhao were handed the title via a walkover after their team-mates withdrew from the competition, due to Lu’s knee injury. Zhang went on to partner Fu Haifeng in the men’s doubles final later in the day, but the duo were beaten 2-1 by Indonesians Angga Pratama and Ricky Karanda Suwardi.
This is not the first time that the Singapore Open has been hit by such an incident. In 2011, former world No 1 and five-time world champion Lin Dan had conceded a walkover to team-mate Chen Jin in the men’s singles final. Citing a stomach ailment for his late withdrawal, the Chinese superstar was booed by the crowd during his speech to fans.
Yesterday, one fan, Yong Wai Chien, who came to watch the finals with three friends, said he was disappointed by the pull-out. “As a badminton fan, I am disappointed. Such situations tarnish the image of the sport,” said Yong, who bought a S$60 season pass to the tournament.
“Even before coming to the match today, I was worried about the pull-out of one of the pairs of finalists in the mixed doubles. There is depth and strength in the China national badminton team and they use that to manipulate results.”
Added Albert Har, 50: “The mixed-doubles match is usually the most dynamic and interesting to watch and it was set as the opener to today’s matches. I feel like I wasted my money. To me, the match was clearly thrown away to allow Zhang Nan to concentrate on the men’s doubles.”
Another fan, Brandon Kuan, hopes the Badminton World Federation (BWF) will look into such incidents, saying: “This is not right, though I am a little bit numb towards such withdrawals ... It is hurting the image of the tournament in Singapore.
“I don’t know what the BWF can do, but perhaps, they can launch a proper investigation into each walkover match.”
When contacted by TODAY, representatives from the BWF — the world governing body for the sport — as well as the event’s organiser, the Singapore Badminton Association, referred to the official statement from the tournament doctor. Said the statement by the Singapore Emergency Ambulance Services: “(Lu) has a long-standing history of having a Baker’s cyst in his left knee. After the (semi-final) match, the cyst increased in size and caused posterior knee pain. He was unable to fully flex his left knee and that resulted in knee weakness. As a result, he is not fit to continue to participate in the competition.”
The Chinese national team has also been hit by other scandals in the past. At the 2012 London Olympic Games, top-seeded pair Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli — along with three pairs from South Korea and Indonesia — were booted out of the competition for trying to lose their matches, in an attempt to manipulate the draw.
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