CHINA OPEN 2007 – Mr. Runner-up finally grabs Gold

Bao Chunlai ended his long title drought on Sunday by defeating a tired Lee Chong Wei in straight games 21-12, 21-13. The Chinese played superbly and even if line judges […]

ImageBao Chunlai ended his long title drought on Sunday by defeating a tired Lee Chong Wei in straight games 21-12, 21-13. The Chinese played superbly and even if line judges hadn’t helped a bit, he probably still would have. Immediately before, Wong Mew Choo scored a huge upset, toppling World #1 Xie Xingfang for the only big surprise of the day, while China was left with only two golds, a feat matched by Indonesia.

Raphael Sachetat, Live from Guangzhou. Photos: Badmintonphoto (Live)

Bao Chunlai could exult and jump as high as he could. He finally ended his curse of being forever in the runner-up position – one that had started following him as a bad reputation. After missing out in the final of the Denmark Open to Lin Dan, then to Lee Chong Wei in France, the Chinese avenged his Parisian defeat to beat the Malaysian in straight games.

ImageBao took a very early lead, clearly showing he was in charge and the Malaysian tried his best to cope with Bao’s speed, but couldn’t keep up. His defense, often short, saw on many occasions Bao rush to the net to anticipate and finish it off. And when the shuttle was sent back high, the Chinese would keep attacking until it hit the floor. Some inspired play led Bao to win it in only 39 minutes.

“I didn’t pay attention to this reputation I have of finishing second and I proved it today. I felt so light and happy after the match point! It’s really a great feeling, moreover, to win at home,” said Bao.

His coach Li Yongbo added later “Bao played beautifully today, and the most amazing thing is that he did so after playing no fewer than 15 matches in a one month period!” said the Chinese coach.

The Chinese may have been helped by some other tight calls from the line judges or the umpire, and also by the fact that his compatriot Chen Hong yielded to him in the quarter-finals after Taufik Hidayat – his first round opponent in the original draw – withdrew. Nevertheless, he proved that he deserved this title with an impressive level of play on Sunday.

“He did play very well, was very aggressive on all shuttles and it was difficult. It is true also that some bad line calls made me lose focus, as otherwise, maybe there would have been a tougher fight. But overall he was very good today,” said Lee Chong Wei.

Wong winds up amazing week in Gold

The Malaysians, however, will go back with one title, as Wong Mew Choo created the upset of the day by beating Xie Xingfang in three games, 21-16, 8-21, 21-17 after trailing almost all the way through the deciding game.

"I had decided to let go with the second as Xie had increased her speed and I couldn’t keep up, but I wanted to fight very hard in the third. It’s not everyday that you have the chance to play in a final of a Super Series. I had the opportunity in Malaysia this year, but I was beaten by Zhu Lin. I didn’t want to let go this time,” said Wong. And the Malaysian showed some impressive fighting spirit and mental strength to catch back from 10/13 then 14/16 to score a remarkable six points in a row to give herself 4 match points, the second of which gave her the title.

Image“It’s just amazing to win here. I tried to cool down and not think I was winning, but she was under pressure too and I just took the chances,” said Mew Choo, who is the first Malaysian ladies’ singles player to have won a major event in at least a decade. “It’s good for the spirit of the other girls. It shows we can do it!” laughed the cute girl, who banked no less than US$16,000 for her great run in China, while Xie only got $6,000.

“Wong is a very good player with very good stamina and movement. She’ll be an excellent player in the future, but for my player, I am disappointed of course, but I can’t blame Xie Xingfang. She was very tired and did her best. She lost because she was just too tired at the end, not because she wasn’t strong enough mentally,” said Li Yongbo.

Indonesia matches China

The Indonesians will be going home with 2 gold medals – matching China’s performance, thanks to the good match from Natsir and Widianto in the opening game, and Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan, the World Champions, who outplayed China’s Guo and Xie. “We were surprised to see this pair in the final and we were confident we could win it. But overall, this was more difficult to win than the World Championships as we were title holders and didn’t want to disappoint,” said Setiawan.

China banked another gold with the ladies’ doubles event, as expected. Gao Ling and Zhao Tingting were crowned against Du and Yu. However, finishing with "only" two gold medals at home, less than a year from the Olympics, might be a bit worrying for the Chinese…

All results :
MS : Bao Chunlai (CHN) beat Lee Chong Wei (MAL) : 21-12, 21-13
LS : Wong Mew Choo (MAL) beat Xie Xingfang (CHN) : 21-16, 8-21, 21-17
MD : Setiawan/Kido (INA) beat Guo/Xie (CHN) : 21-12, 21-19
LD : Gao/Zhao (CHN) beat Du/Yu (CHN) : 17-21, 21-15, 21-8
MxD : Widianto/Natsir (INA) beat Prapakamol/Thounthongkam (THA) : 15-21, 21-18, 21-11

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.