ASIAN GAMES Indiv. Day 5 – Chong Wei denies Pink wave!

Lee Chong Wei reassured his fans by getting his revenge from the team event on Boonsak Ponsana in an efficient manner.  He will next take on Chen Jin, while Park […]

Lee Chong Wei reassured his fans by getting his revenge from the team event on Boonsak Ponsana in an efficient manner.  He will next take on Chen Jin, while Park Sung Hwan – winner over two-time defending champion Taufik Hidayat – will probably face Lin Dan who is to play in the evening session against Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh.

By Raphael Sachetat, live from Guangzhou.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

There will be no pink wave this time.  Thailand will not enjoy similar fate as during the team event where their pink shirts had been all over.  This time, it’s back to the old favourites to lead the badminton world, starting with Lee Chong Wei (pictured), top seed, who had been playing below par, leading to Malaysia’s unexpected defeat in the team event when he had tamely lost to Ponsana.

But in the individual quarter-finals, there were no more headaches and it was this time a totally new Chong Wei on court.  Lee was much more aggressive and confident in his strokes, varying between long rallies and short ones, using very steep attacks.  Boonsak did lead at some point in each game but each time, the Malaysian would make sure the gap wasn’t too big to fill up and got back in the lead, for a clear 21-13, 21-17.

“Chong Wei played much better today than last time against Boonsak. You could see that he was eager to win from his body language. Now that he’s reached the semi-final, he can take the pressure off his shoulders. He wants to perform the best he can,” said his coach Misbun Sidek.

“I was feeling much better today and I was quite quick on court. Boonsak didn’t seem well prepared for my constant attacks. The last time we played my weakness was at the net so I tried to improve on that. Now, I’ll probably play Chen Jin. I haven’t lost to him this year so I hope I can beat him again,” said Chong Wei.

On his end, Boonsak Ponsana admitted his opponent played better than him, with his usual humility. “He was playing at a very high pace and I just couldn’t catch up with him. He controlled the tempo of this match. However, we’ve done very well as a team here in Guangzhou. We can only be satisfied,” added the law student, who also hinted that he might consider quitting badminton after the Olympics because of too many injuries.

Thailand bid goodbye to Guangzhou overall in the individual competition as both mixed double pairs lost their matches.

Taufik: “Sad I couldn’t play well”

Lee Chong Wei’s best friend on the circuit, Taufik Hidayat (pictured), wasn’t to make it to the last stage, losing his title through a quarter-final loss to Park Sung Hwan. The Korean had shown earlier in the tournament he was well prepared for these after he had almost beaten Lin Dan in the team event, and this time again, he proved too efficient for the Indonesian star.  Giving no solution to Taufik, Park was in total control of the rallies while his opponent often hit the tap of the net or just outside the line. It was just not Taufik’s day today.

“I wasn’t feeling well on court: My legs, my head, I couldn’t focus. I have no excuses, I just played bad. And this made me frustrated. For me, winning or losing is okay as long as I can play well, but today, it wasn’t the case and I’m sad because of that,” said Taufik after his disappointing 15-21, 16-21 defeat. As for his future, when asked by the local press, Taufik stayed on the same line as always: “I’m still the number one in Indonesia and I am waiting for young players to come in before I retire. I still hope that I can go all the way to London but it’s still one and a half year away, so, we’ll see.”  Chen Jin was the last one to qualify in the morning session after a straight-game victory over Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei.

Doha’s slap forgotten

The semi-finals of the women’s singles were also played in the morning session on Friday and logic prevailed as both Chinese shuttlers – Wang Xin (pictured) and Wang Shixian made it to the final, in rather easy ways. Yip Pui Yin, obviously not as energetic as the previous night,  could easily blame the tight schedule which saw her end her match past midnight and get ready for the next one less than 10 hours later. But Wang Shixian was the boss on court and won in straight games and even if she trailed for a while – she was down 4-11 in the second game, she was able to win 21-14, 21-14. Just few minutes before, Wang Xin had dashed Japan’s hopes for Silver or Gold when she edged out Hirose 21-7, 21-15.

This means China is assured of getting a title that slipped away in Doha, four years ago, when both Xie Xingfang and Zhang Ning were beaten by Hong Kong stars, Wang Chen and Yip Pui Yin. As a symbol, today, both Wang Chen and Zhang Ning were in the coach’s chairs, facing each other. This time, Zhang Ning had the last word through her protégée.

The Chinese mixed doubles performed well also, with two victories in the quarter-finals – Zhang and Zhao beat Ko and Ha, while He and Ma outplayed better ranked Lee and Chien of Chinese Taipei.

For complete results, CLICK HERE

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.