VIETNAM OPEN 2008 SF – Tien Minh is In and Singapore Stings

The tiny island nation of Singapore has set itself up for three titles at the Yonex-Sunrise Vietnam Open Grand Prix.  Two of its teenagers will vy for the women’s singles […]

The tiny island nation of Singapore has set itself up for three titles at the Yonex-Sunrise .  Two of its teenagers will vy for the women’s singles title in Sunday’s final but in both the mixed and women’s doubles finals, Indonesia’s Shendy Puspa Irawati stands in the way, hoping to contribute to a 3-title day for her nation instead.  Home favourite Nguyen Tien Minh (pictured) is looking strong to take his first ever Grand Prix title in front of his home crowd.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto.com (archives)

Nguyen Tien Minh has won 3 titles in his career, all of them International Challenge-level events and 2 of those have been on home soil.  This weekend, though, he is playing in his first Grand Prix final ever and will be hoping for the home court luck, his own talent and determination, and the support of his home fans to bring him the title he so craves.

Last year’s runner-up, Andre Kurniawan Tedjono, put up a valiant fight, coming back from one game down to scrape out a 23-21 victory in the second and send the match to a decider.  However, Nguyen just wanted the title too much and after 58 minutes of play, it was the Vietnamese shuttler who emerged the 21-10, 21-23, 21-10 victor.

In the other semi-final, Hong Kong’s Chan Yan Kit (pictured) had a comparatively easy time with another Indonesian, Ari Yuli Wahyu Hartanto, whom he beat 21-15, 21-16.  Chan is also very hungry for a win.  Unlike Nguyen, he has spent most of his career in the shadow of a compatriot and he has yet to win an international title.

The women’s singles semi-finals were all about Singapore.  One of them was an all-Singapore affair while the other, involving local talent Phung Nguyen Phuong Nh and top seed Xing Aiying (pictured below), seemed in hindsight to be almost as sure a victory for the island state.  19-year-old Xing made quick work of Phung, beating her 21-12, 21-5 in just 25 minutes.

The two 18-year-olds, meanwhile, battled more fiercely, for one game at least, before Zhang ended Fu Mingtian’s run, winning 21-8, 22-20 to enter her first ever international final.

Yet another Singapore teenager, Yao Lei, who partnered Fu Mingtian to win the recent World Championships, got her first chance at a Grand Prix title as she and Shinta Mulia Sari narrowly edged 4th-seeded Malaysians Ng-Lim 21-15, 18-21, 22-20 in one of the day’s closest matches.  The final will be a repeat of the recent Indonesia Challenge, where the Singapore girls lost to this tournament’s top seeds Irawati/Jauhari.  The Indonesians enjoyed a quick win over Singapore’s Neo/Liu to enter their fourth Grand Prix final in just over two months where they will attempt to finally add such a prestigious title to the 4 International Challenge titles they have already accumulated on the year.

In the mixed doubles final, Neo will get the chance to exact some payback from Shendy Puspa Irawati (pictured below).  However, the powerful Indonesian and new partner Ahmed Tantowi are looking very strong in their first tournament together.  They pulled off a narrow upset of the top seeds from Hong Kong Wiratama/Chau, winning 20-22, 21-14, 22-20.  Neo, too, is playing with a new partner but she and Riky Widianto had an easy win over another Hong Kong pair.

In the men’s doubles, Malaysia’s Lee Wan Wah and Choong Tan Fook are playing in their first final in over a year and the top seeds were a little shaky in their semi-final against Singapore’s Hendri Kurniawan Saputra / Hendra Wijaya, winning narrowly by 21-19, 22-20.  In the final, they will face a different Kurniawan and a different Wijaya as Fran and Rendra, who have now had a taste of Grand Prix success with their victory in the recent Dutch Open, overcame a first-game hiccup against compatriots Windarto/Wirawan before taking it home 19-21, 21-6, 21-14.

For complete results from the 2008 Yonex-Sunrise Vietnam Open Grand Prix semi-finals, please CLICK HERE

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Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net