They are perhaps the only genuine contender to Wang and Yu in the women’s doubles, with a final between the two pairings already penciled in for August 4. The two 25-year olds claimed the 2010 Asian Championships over Wang and Yu at the start of their partnership but have been second best to their Chinese team-mates since.
They are undoubtedly the second force in the women’s game, with their head to heads against the rest of the field being almost all in favour of Tian and Zhao. Their most recent victory at the 2012 All England Championships was a double success, not only did they claim their first All England title but they also defeated Wang and Yu in the process.
For Zhao Yunlei, this is one of two chances at Olympic gold in London but for Tian Qing this is her only chance at Olympic success after dropping the mixed doubles discipline in 2011 to focus purely on the women’s doubles. There is striking comparisons between the two pairings, with both Tian Qing and Wang Xiaoli giving up mixed doubles to focus on the women’s doubles whilst for Yu and Zhao are the more complete players of the partnership, with Yu Yang managing to have two rankings inside the top 50 in the world in the mixed doubles last year with two separate partners.
Can Tian and Zhao Win Gold?
There is an expectancy that their 11th meeting with Wang and Yu will be for Olympic gold. They have won just two of their ten official meetings but with one coming at the All Englands in March, they will believe that they have a chance to win gold. 2012 has been a successful season for the pairing, winning the opening two Super Series Premier events before losing in Indonesia to Wang and Yu.
Can They Beat Wang and Yu?
There is one striking statistic that stands out in their matches, every single game that has gone to extra points has been won by Wang and Yu. In a run of four matches from September to November last year, all four matches needed extra points in the opening game which Wang and Yu won on all four occasions and only one of those matches went to three games. Tian and Zhao must win the first game to have any chance of defeating Wang and Yu and ideally must do it in two games, like their All England success in March. It will be dependent mostly on Zhao Yunlei, who must balance both her mixed doubles and women’s doubles in a week that will see her play at least six matches in the group stages alone.