The Chinese Taipei camp pulled off the greatest upsets on semi-finals day, while the local crowd had much to cheer about with Yao Lei / Shinta Mulia Sari’s historical Super […]


The Chinese Taipei camp pulled off the greatest upsets on semi-finals day, while the local crowd had much to cheer about with Yao Lei / Shinta Mulia Sari’s historical Super Series final appearance.

By Pearlyn Kwang and Serla Rusli. Badzine Correspondents, reporting live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Unseeded, unheralded and unfancied

But Tai Tzu Ying (pictured below right) surpassed all expectations to move into the women’s singles final of the USD$200,000 Singapore Super Series. The Taiwanese, who turns 16 tomorrow, had to play more matches than anyone else, but her fighting spirit still remains as fervent as ever.

She stunned Bae Youn Joo 21-16, 21-18, hardly breaking a sweat during the process. Rather, it was the 19-year-old South Korean that had trouble trying to find her momentum. She was never really into the game, and just could not respond effectively to the younger teenager’s impromptu tactics and accuracy.

Chinese Taipei’s coach Chen Zhi Hao told Badzine: “(Tai) played so much better than yesterday. She recovered from her muscle aches she was complaining about yesterday, which I think is one reason why she did better. I told her to just relax, go with the flow, and not think too much.

I’m very happy for her, because this is all a result of her own efforts.”

If Tai was ecstatic, she certainly did not show it. Her calmness on court extended off-court, as she coolly responded to queries with practically no hint of excitement. Nonetheless, beneath her shy demeanour is a gem waiting to be unearthed.

sin2010-sf-tai“She has very good potential,” said Chen of his protégé. “But she is just 16, so sometimes it is unpreventable that during training, she just wants to play around like a young child. If she wishes to embark on the international circuit, she must really focus, and put in more effort during training when she goes back. Because I believe her potential is far greater than anyone else in Taiwan.”

Tai will take on top seed and world #6 Saina Nehwal in the final. “I will just prepare what I ought to usually, and do my best,” Tai said.  When asked to rate her chances against Saina, she replied matter-of-factly: “I’m already very happy to reach the finals, I had never thought I would even make it this far.  For Super Series events, I will always be in the qualifiers, and I would just try my luck to see if I will be able to get into the main draw, so I don’t expect much. But of course, it will be greater if I’m able to win tomorrow.”

Mu-ving into the finals

Two matches later on the same court, the Chinese Taipei team created yet another upset in a similar fashion.

Having knocked out the seeded pairs of Alvent Yulianto Candra/Hendra Aprida Gunawan and Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen in earlier rounds, Fang Chieh Min and Lee Sheng Mu (pictured top left) continued their giant killing rampage, this time needing a mere 25 minutes to end the journey of second seeds Markis Kido / Hendra Setiawan. It was, however, not before they overcame their jittery nerves.

“In the opening set, I could tell that they were feeling very pressured, since they had defeated the Indonesians twice before and were very eager to win. Thus, after the interval, I told them to relax,” relayed Coach Chen. “I also noticed that Kido’s condition wasn’t very good today, so I asked them to direct their attacks to Kido.”

24-year-old Fang, who will be playing in his first-ever Super Series finals along with his partner, gave his two cents: “We were playing at our usual standard. Our opponents’ performance was off-par today.  After the interval in the first set, their play started to become very slow-paced, so we took advantage of that by increasing our speed and moving them around. Then in the second set, it felt like they just didn’t want to win the match anymore.”

Surprisingly easy victories for both Tai and Fang/Lee, so how well does Chen hope the two finalists fare on Sunday then?

“As long as they try their best, it’s enough. Winning is definitely a good thing, but the most important thing is still the process, as it’s the experience they gain that matters most.”

sin2010-sf-shintaSingaporeans’ maiden trip to Super Series Finals

The Taiwanese underdogs in the tournament certainly gave the country a reason to cheer. Ironically, it was the seeded Taiwanese players who failed to clinch a spot in the Finals.  Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin were upset by the unstoppable hosts Shinta Mulia Sari / Yao Lei (pictured left) in an 11-21, 21-18, 21-19 battle. With the backing of roaring crowd support, the duo beat all odds to step into the first Super Series final for the country, and were rewarded at the end with a standing ovation.

“It feels really great to get into the finals!  The fact that we are playing it in our own country makes everything even more special,” rejoiced the twenty-two-year-old Shinta.

The pair showed a drastic change in their play after their 11-21 loss in the first game. “We couldn’t really get into our game at first because we were too careful. However, our coach told us to just play our best and give out whatever we had,” recalled Shinta. The pair was leading from the third point onwards to clinch the ever-important second game.

“After we won the second game, we became more confident. Moreover, our opponents started making unforced errors and we fired up even more.”

Shinta and her partner Yao Lei were recently crowned India Open 2010 Champions. “Winning the tournament in India definitely gave us an added confidence right from the moment we entered the court,” added Shinta.

The Singaporeans will face fifth-seeded Kim Min Jung / Lee Hyo Jung from Korea, who played brilliantly against Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari / Greysia Polii.  They booked their share of spotlight tomorrow after beating the Indonesians 21-8, 21-15.

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For complete semi-final results from the 2010 Li-Ning Singapore Open Super Series, CLICK HERE

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About Pearlyn Kwang