Women’s doubles badminton is as competitive as it has ever been. With many women’s doubles teams competing for position in the World Rankings, breaking into the division is a feat in itself. However, two players are slowly but surely making a name for themselves in this cut-throat badminton division. I’m talking about Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu!
Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu are two of the most promising women’s doubles players from China. Both had impeccable junior careers before making their senior debuts, winning multiple titles before pairing up as senior players in 2022. Together, Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu have been podium mainstays on the World Tour. They were finalists in several high-profile tournaments, including the 2022 All England. Following the All England, the pair won the Australian Open. By 2023, the team has already amassed incredible performances. Their finishes on the podium and World Tour victories enabled them to claim the third spot on the World Rankings as of January 2023.
Young, talented, and hungry, Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu are building momentum to climb to the top of the World Rankings. Find out more about this young powerhouse pairing from China in my latest edition of Player Profile!
Zhang Shu Xian’s Early Life and Badminton Accomplishments
Born on January 2, 2000, in Sichuan, China, Zhang Shu Xian began badminton as early as her primary school years — pretty much like most badminton players from China. Amassing enough playing time, she developed her skills until her teenage years. When she turned 16, her school made numerous recommendations to the Sichuan badminton team to take her under its wing.
As a member of the Sichuan team, Zhang Shu Xian carved a junior career any young player would envy. When she was 17, she won her first bronze medal at the 2017 World Junior Championships. After a couple of weeks, she won her first girl’s doubles title at the 2017 Korea Junior International. She also captured a silver medal in mixed doubles at the same tournament.
In 2018, the young Zhang Shu Xian bagged her second junior title for girls’ doubles at the 2018 German Junior. Later, she took home a silver medal at the girl’s doubles event of the 2018 Junior Grand Prix.
Later that year, she added another medal to her trophy cabinet when she won a mixed doubles bronze medal at the 2018 World Junior Championships.
Zheng Yu’s Early Life and Junior Badminton Accomplishments
Zheng Yu was born on January 7, 1996, in Shandong, China. Like her future partner, she took to badminton early, becoming adept at the sport at an early age. Zheng Yu began her competitive badminton career as soon as she turned 15, debuting at the 2011 Asia Youth Championships as a singles player.
That year, Zheng Yu was also selected to be part of China’s delegation at the Asian Junior Championships. At the event, she performed well to help secure China’s mixed doubles team victory at the tournament.
In 2012, Zheng Yu competed at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Chiba, Japan. At the tournament, she made short work of her opponents, exiting after the round of 16 stages.
Partnership in 2022
Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu had already competed as senior players before joining forces in 2022. The duo debuted at the 2022 German Open, losing in the semifinals to Bulgarians Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva.
Hungry for redemption, they set their eyes on better results. Their chance came just ten days later at the 2022 All England. At the tournament, the team’s desire for their first women’s doubles title was palpable as they decimated every team in their path.
Reaching the finals, they faced Japan’s Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida. Unfortunately, the Japanese team proved too skillful, defeating Zheng and Zhang in straight sets.
Nevertheless, their performance earned the newly formed team a silver medal and the attention of the badminton world.
Months later, Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu competed at the 2022 Malaysia Open. As in their All England Outing, they breezed to the finals, dominating the women’s doubles event. Indonesia’s Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti were awaiting them in the finals.
The two teams battled it out in the finals, forcing the match to a third game. However, the Indonesian team rallied from behind to narrowly win the third game 21-19. Like their All England outing, Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu had to settle for the runner-up position.
Another runner-up finish followed a month later at the Singapore Open. At the 2022 Singapore Open, Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu advanced to the finals to face Rahayu and Ramadhanti again. Despite losing, Zhang and Zheng once again were on the podium as the tournament’s runners-up.
Hard Work Bearing Fruit at the Australian Open and Claiming World Number Three Status
Nearing the end of 2022, Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu had yet to win their first World Tour titles. Their chance came in November 2022.
At the 2022 Australian Open, the newly formed team dominated the women’s doubles event to reach the finals. Awaiting Zhang and Zheng in the finals were Thailand’s Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakarn Aimsaard.
Hungry for their first title, Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu pulled out all the stops. In two straight games, they defeated their Thai opponents to win their first World Tour title!
By the time January 2023 rolled around, Zhang Su Xian and Zheng Yu had amassed enough ranking points on the World Tour. As a result, the pair shot up the World Rankings, becoming the third best women’s doubles team in the world.
Young, Hungry, and on the Rise to Badminton Stardom
Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu are a young team worth watching on the World Tour and international badminton stage. With the two players in the early stages of their careers, anything is possible. As long as they stay as determined as they were in 2022, there’s no limit to what they can achieve. All we can do is stay tuned to the rankings and matches!
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