2012 Olympic Preview – Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang

On July 20, 2012, in Olympics, by Eddie Smith

The all-conquering partnership of Wang and Yu are one of the favourites for a Chinese medal in just over 2 weeks time but as dominant as their 2012 season has been, there have been someone unlikely results to give the rest of the field hope going into the Olympics.

Their partnership begun in 2010 after Wang Xiaoli, then partnered with Ma Jin and also playing mixed doubles with Tao Jiaming. Wang Xiaoli reached the World Championship Women’s Doubles final in Paris that year, only to be defeated by Du and Yu in a one-sided final. Yu Yang was already an Olympic champion in women’s doubles with Du Jing but after the 2010 World Championships, the decision was made to pair Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli together, with Wang Xiaoli also dropping the mixed doubles event to focus solely on women’s doubles.

For a 52-week period, Wang and Yu did not lose a match that they completed. Their retirement in the final of the China Masters to Huan and Tang was the only time they took to a court and were defeated. They dominated at the 2011 World Championships without the loss of a game but their 2012 season started with disaster in Korea with a shock defeat to Korea’s Ha and Kim, followed two months later with their second defeat in a Super Series Premier final to their perennial rivals, Tian and Zhao.

Their Chinese counterparts are the closest that the world number 1 pairing have to a rivalry at the moment, with nearly all of their 10 meetings coming in finals. Tian and Zhao are the only pair to have defeated Wang and Yu on two separate occasions and most noticeably the only pair that is a genuine threat to the gold medal hopes of the world number 1 pairing.

However in their most recent encounters, Wang and Yu gained revenge for their defeats earlier in the year to both the Korean pair of Ha and Kim as well as team-mates Tian and Zhao to enter the Olympics as the undoubted favourites for the gold medal.

Just How Good Are Wang and Yu?

The partnership has been together for 98 official matches, winning 93 of them. One of those five defeats is their retirement in China and another came very early into the partnership but was another retirement to Goh and Chin of Malaysia. They have been beaten just three times in around two years and by only two pairs, the world number 2 pair of Tian and Zhao have two victories whilst the world number 3 pair of Ha and Kim have claimed the only other victory.

Can These Two Pairs Beat Wang and Yu Again?

Both the head to head records would suggest otherwise, with Ha and Kim’s 1-7 record against the world number pairing and claiming just four games in those eight encounters and heir victory was in Korea in front of a partizan crowd. Tian and Zhao’s 2-8 record is somewhat deceiving, their two most recent encounters have resulted in a victory for Tian and Zhao and a tight three game victory for Wang and Yu. Four of their encounters have gone to extra points in the opening game that had Tian and Zhao won could have changed the complexity of the match completely.

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