MALAYSIA GPG 2011 QF – Sung great on 78

China suffered two blows to its women’s singles arsenal as Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun added world #5 Jiang Yanjiao to her list of victims, but China still has a shot […]

China suffered two blows to its women’s singles arsenal as Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun added world #5 Jiang Yanjiao to her list of victims, but China still has a shot at three golds in the Malaysia Gold.

By Wilson Chew, Badzine Correspondent live in Alor Setar.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

There was no lack of upsets and other excitement as an action-packed weekend got an early start on Friday evening in Alor Setar.  Arguably the biggest upset was by Ruud Bosch / Koen Ridder (pictured) of the Netherlands, who were the only unseeded players to topple a seed in the quarter-finals.

Bosch/Ridder have shown Europe and the world that Netherlands has arrived especially in the men’s doubles category, when they perform greatly against 3rd-seeded Indonesians Mohammad Ahsan / Bona Septano. They won remarkably in straight games 22-20, 21-18.

The traditional powers surround the Dutchmen in the semis, however, as India Open winners Hashimoto/Hirata went down in 3 to Alvent Yulianto Chandra / Hendra Aprida Gunawan of Indonesia and the top seeds took care of the other Japanese challengers. In their first game against Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa, Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong were testing and analysing the Japanese pair’s strategy before finding an extra gear in the second game. In the third game especially when it is 17-17, Koo/Tan showed the Japanese pair who is the more experienced as well as better at tactical play. They won 15-21, 21-14, 21-17.

Malaysians got into the act on upsets, too, though as 2010 Asian Champions Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (pictured) continued their form from the second round by beating more the illustrious pair from Thailand.  Chan/Goh beat top seeds Sudket Prapakamol/Saralee Thoungthongkam 25-27, 21-17, 21-14.  Indonesia is still on track to produce the same all-Indonesian final as last week but Chan and Goh will attempt to prevent that by winning their grudge match with Bernadet/Kurniawan, who beat the Malaysians in the semis in Delhi.

Sho Sasaki who beat Chen Jin yesterday continued his remarkable performance in this tournament.  Once upon a time, Park Sung Hwan seemed to be better at beating the mighty Lin Dan than Sho but the Korean managed to find the winning formula against this unlikely nemesis on their last four meetings.  However, Sho managed to get back a step ahead of the tall 6th seed and took their quarter-final12-21, 21-8, 21-16.

Lee Chong Wei once again showed the world why he’s #1, easily brushing aside France’s Brice Leverdez.  Sony Dwi Kuncoro had to retire as his injury acted up, thus giving Nguyen Tien Minh an easy passage to the semi-finals, where he will face Bao Chunlai.  Bao took three games to finally shut down Korea’s Lee Hyun Il.

Korea’s catharsis, after the loss of both men’s singles players, came when Sung Ji Hyun met Jiang Yanjiao.  Sung seems to be figuring out how to beat China’s veterans, at least, as she has racked up a single win each over Zhou Mi, Wang Xin, and now Jiang Yanjiao in the last two years.  This win required the 19-year-old to find some stamina and mental fortitude, two things her parent-coaches have said were key to her future success.  Not only did she outlast Jiang across 78 minutes of play, but she came back from 16-20 down to win the first game 25-23.

Wang Lin’s knee seems to have acted up again when her movement in the second game was much more slower and her reliance on wrist control was more evident in the rubber game. She finally lost 21-14, 19-21, 19-21 to Saina Nehwal. However, China still has Wang Xin in the semi-final as she beat Ai Goto 23-21, 21-16.

In order to reach the final, Korea’s ladies will each have to get past the player who stopped them in their first major final, as it was Saina who blocked Sung’s hopes of Swiss Open gold while Wang Xin beat out Bae Youn Joo in the Malaysia Open final last winter.

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