SUDIRMAN CUP 2009 Day 3 – Chinese on a Roll, Danes on Death Row

After demolishing England 5-0 in the opening group tie, host China has kept another clean sheet this evening as they steamrolled past Japan to deny the newly promoted team their […]

After demolishing England 5-0 in the opening group tie, host China has kept another clean sheet this evening as they steamrolled past Japan to deny the newly promoted team their chance for Cup glory at the 2009 in Guangzhou. While Korea summoned Denmark with the death knell after the 2003 winners tumbled the top seed 4-1 in their group tie on the same evening.

By Jan Lin, reporting live in Guangzhou. Photos: badmintonphoto.com

Unlike the 5-0 disposal of England, China’s 5-0 thumping of Japan has additional significance as the third day of the 2009 Sudirman Cup marks the first year anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The Chinese team observed a one-minute silence before their group match against Japan kicked-off, but that was as far as empathy was identified with the Chinese team in their Sudirman campaign.

The Chinese fielded a merciless line-up against a team of Japanese fresh faces. 2008 Beijing Olympic finalists – men’s doubles pair of Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng, women’s doubles pair of Du Jing / Yu Yang and men’s singles Lin Dan – were all on China’s menu this evening. The crowd favourites swiftly wrapped up their matches in convincing straight sets scores and spending less than half an hour each.

Cai/Fu got the ball rolling for the Chinese with a 21-14, 21-13 victory over Japan’s unheralded Kenta Kazuno / Kenichi Hayakawa. Lin Dan then tamed Sho Sasaki 21-12, 21-13 while fellow Olympic champions Du Jing/Yu Yang annihilated Mizuki Fukii/Reika Kakiiwa 21-10, 21-9. Japan came close to stealing a set each from the women’s singles and mixed doubles but the flesh was simply too weak.

Significantly weaker than their counterparts, Japan’s  Mayu Sekiya (pictured) was given a beating by the world number 8 Wang Yihan in the first set with a score of 21-10. The gutsy Japanese, however, turned the table against the uprising Chinese star to race to an incredible 12-4 lead in the second set. Sekiya kept a healthy 6-points lead until Wang decided to make a frantic homerun at 10-17 down.

The 2009 All-England and Swiss Open champion was struggling to cope with the petite Japanese’s huge smashes in the second set. Backed by a boisterous crowd, however, Wang made a belated dash to the finish line and finally levelled up with Sakiya at 20-20. By then, the killer instincts of Wang were raging and she wasted no more time and energies to bag the next 2 points.

Wang’s fellow 2006 World Champion, Ma Jin, who had captured the 2006 World Junior girls’ doubles title, teamed up with veteran Zheng Bo (both pictured) for the mixed doubles this evening. Mimicking Wang, the duo captured the first set 21-11 without breaking a brow, but came close to surrendering the second set against Noriyasu Hirata / Miyuki Maeda at the ending stages before prevailing 25-23.

“I’m satisfied with Wang Yihan and Ma Jin’s performance,” asserted China head coach Li Yongbo at the post-match press conference, “what was most important to me was they have both shown they are capable of turning their games around to seal victory.” Li also admitted that they have brought a huge squad so that the younger players could receive maximum exposure at the shortest time.

Li added, “Besides adding depth to our team, it is important that the younger players can just come along to watch and receive exposure.” When asked about the team strategies in determining the team’s line-up, Li answered diplomatically, “To me, there is no difference between all my players. Selection is performance-based. My team is very united and cohesive – that’s the secret strategy.”

While China joins Indonesia in the semi-finals on Saturday, the situation in the other group is still ambiguous. Denmark and Malaysia are neck-and-neck in their race for a ticket to the semi-finals while Korea has been given the upper hand this evening after a convincing victory against the top seeded team – Denmark. Korea will need to beat Hong Kong to confirm their status atop the group and avoid a likely semi-final against China.

The Denmark-Korea tie seemed like a reunion of friends and rivals as it featured no fewer than five finalists from this year’s Korea Open, even as that tournament’s women’s singles champion, Tine Rasmussen, was at home with an injury.  The Danish team was dealt quadruple blows in their showdown against the armed and fired-up Korea, who have been untouchable in the 3 doubles events. The infamous 3 Lees and 1 Jung – Lee Yong Dae, Lee Hyo Jung, Lee Kyung Won and Jung Jae Sung – completed yet another hat-trick of doubles in Guangzhou this evening. To add salt to wound, all 3 victories were sealed in straight sets.

The highlight was actually a repeat of the Korea Open final in January but the result was the opposite as Jung/Lee (pictured) found their form just in time to take the first game on their fourth attempt and to go on to beat Boe/Mogensen 23-21, 21-10.

In the Korea’s less dependable singles, Hwang Hye Youn sprung a surprise win over the in-form Nanna Brosolat Janna in a tiebreaker match with see-saw scores of 21-10, 8-21, 11-21, but Park Sung Hwan could not find his usual rhythm and succumbed 16-21, 18-21 to Danish veteran ace, Peter Gade (pictured top). The current world number 2 Dane was taken to the hospital after the game to investigate a migraine attack he suffered in the game.

“I think the better team won today,” admitted Denmark’s head coach Traerup-Hansen. “We’ll cross our fingers for our match against Malaysia.”

But Korea’s head coach Kim Joong Soo had an assuring word for Denmark.  Kim revealed, “Denmark is actually a tougher opponent than Malaysia.  We beat them more easily because we were very fortunate that Tine Rasmussen did not make the trip here.”

For complete results from Day 3 of the 2009 Li Ning Sudirman Cup, please CLICK HERE

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