Whittled down from a field of more than 100 players, Sunday’s inaugural London Grand Prix Gold comes to a head with five dramatic finals left to decide the victors.
After fighting their way through a lengthy field of opponents over the last five days, only 16 stars of the badminton world are left in the running for both singles tournaments, as well as three doubles competitions (men, women and mixed).
With world ranking points and a $120,000 cash prize all on the line, Sunday promises to produce eight worthy champions at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Copper Box Arena.
Read on for all you need to know heading into the competition’s climax.
Houwei Tian vs. Hans-Kristian Vittinghus
Houwei Tian had the most difficult time of any singles player in reaching this stage of the London Grand Prix, the only finalist to not seeded Tuesday morning.
Along the way, the Chinese underdog saw the retirements of his first two opponents before overcoming No. 1 overall seed Jan O Jorgensen in a three-game thriller last Thursday.
The trials didn’t stop there for Tian. A quarter-final beating of Singapore’s Zi Liang Derek Wong was followed up with victory over another tournament favourite, England’s own Rajiv Ouseph, in Saturday’s semi.
Standing opposite the 21-year-old is second seed and O Jorgensen’s Danish compatriot, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.
Having already managed to beat the odds on three substantial occasions in the last week, Tian could earn the biggest accolade of his career since winning the Yonex Australia Open in April of this year.
Prediction: Vittinghus Wins 2-1
Carolina Marin vs. Kirsty Gilmour
As the last hope of Britain claiming any home singles glory, Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour carries the weight of several nations on her shoulders in ensuring the Olympic spirit of 2012 lives on at the Copper Box.
With that being the case, it's nice to see the 20-year-old hasn't lost sight of her less glitzy side:
Carolina Marin will be the most difficult test of Gilmour’s resolve. The Spaniard is the highest women’s seed that the Scot will face (third overall compared to Gilmour’s fifth).
Marin will also be just the second seeded opponent to have crossed Gilmour this week, Saturday’s semi-final win over Kristina Gavnholt being the toughest task up until now.
Having said that, Marin has had far from an easy run to the final herself and did magnificently to see off No. 1 overall seed, Busanan Ongbumrungpan, with a dramatic 2-1 comeback victory.
What’s bound to play a big factor in Sunday’s final is the fact that Gilmour has also played two extra doubles games this week alongside her compatriot Jillie Cooper. While it may not seem like a lot, the slightest sap of energy could tell the tale between winning and losing.
Prediction: Marin Wins 2-0
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