Can Guoyu’s “Phoenix Combination” overcome the “psychological barrier” after being upset and defeated in the competition?
Chinanews.com, Beijing, August 25th – The National Badminton Mixed Doubles “Phoenix Combination” Feng Yanzhe and Huang Dongping faced disappointment as they were eliminated in the 2023 World Badminton Championships held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The pair reached the top 16 before their journey came to an end.
Pressure played a significant factor in their defeat, with Feng Yanzhe, the younger player in the duo, feeling particularly anxious. Their opponents, Mathias and Bor of Denmark, benefited from their home court advantage and distinctive offensive skills, almost completely suppressing the “post-00” Feng Yanzhe on the court. Huang Dongping expressed her dissatisfaction with their performance, stating that although they expected a tough match, they failed to perform to their potential and lacked the necessary resilience. Their strategic plans were insufficient and adjustments were ineffective.
Interestingly, Feng Yanzhe and Huang Dongping had actually defeated the Danish pair at the Indonesian Open just two months prior. It seems that when faced with important events, the psychological pressure on the “Phoenix Combination” becomes a limiting factor.
However, this is not the first instance of the “Phoenix Combination” faltering under pressure. During the semi-finals of the Sudirman Cup in May 2023, Feng Yanzhe and Huang Dongping, representing the Chinese team for the first time, faced a tough battle against the seemingly inferior Japanese combination of Yamashita Kyohei and Shinoya Naru. Despite initially leading, they were ultimately defeated in the deciding game, causing the Chinese team to suffer a setback. The pair’s performance drew concern from the public.
Cai Yun, a four-time doubles gold medalist in the World Championships, watched the match live and provided insightful commentary. He noted that although Feng Yanzhe and Huang Dongping perform well in open competitions, they struggle to handle the pressure in larger tournaments. Cai Yun emphasized the importance of displaying courage and adaptability when opponents restrict their usual tactics in crucial matches.
Huang Dongping herself acknowledged the biggest regret of their loss was their inability to overcome psychological barriers, stating that the match presented a valuable opportunity for growth. She expressed disappointment in their inability to mentally overcome the pressure imposed by the home crowd.
The rich history of Chinese badminton has fostered a tradition of producing successful pairings. Following the Rio Olympics, Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong, as well as Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping, emerged as top contenders in mixed doubles. These pairs achieved significant victories during the Tokyo Olympic cycle, driving each other to greater success. However, with Wang Yilyu leaving the national team due to injury after the Tokyo Olympics, the burden of responsibility now falls on the “Phoenix Team” during the Paris Olympic cycle.
If the phoenix is to spread its wings, it must first undergo a rebirth. After the World Championships, the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou pose another major challenge. The event will bring together many Asian badminton masters, offering the “Phoenix Combination” an opportunity to prove themselves through their training and performance. Only time will tell whether they can rise above their psychological barriers and fulfill their potential on the court.