THAILAND OPEN 2011 Finals – Lee, Lee, Li… but not Lee!

The Chinese team dominated the gold medal count by taking three of the medals home at the SGC Thailand Open, with former Asian Champion Li Xuerui (photo) scooping gold in […]

The Chinese team dominated the gold medal count by taking three of the medals home at the SGC , with former Asian Champion Li Xuerui (photo) scooping gold in women’s singles. Lee Yong Dae, Lee Sheng Mu were the other Lee‘s to grab titles while Lee Hyun Il fell short of gold, losing to Chen Long.

By: Gerald Jew, Badzine Correspondent, live in Bangkok. Photos: The Badminton Association of Thailand (live) and Gerald Jew (live).

The matches at the SGC Thailand Open 2011 went pretty much as planned as all but one of the higher seeded players or teams won the gold medals on Sunday. China’s Chen Long ended his championship drought; Li Xuerui took the women’s singles title, Chinese Taipei’s Lee Sheng Mu and Chien Yu Chin won the mixed doubles, the Chinese women’s doubles team of Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei were victorious and Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung of Korea added more gold medals to their collections.

The matches began at 12:00 noon with a half-filled stadium. Either the Thai fans, who bring a whole new meaning to the term “fashionably late”, were caught in traffic, were busy doing other things on Sunday morning or perhaps they were waiting until the more marquee matchups to begin later in the day at Chulalongkorn University’s Sports Complex. Either way, it was by around 1:00 PM that the stadium was finally filled to capacity.

The day started off with Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei soundly defeating their Chinese compatriots Cheng Shu and Bao Yixin by scores of 21-7, 21-8 in a match that was never in doubt. Tian and Zhao jumped out to big leads in both games and cruised along on their path to the winner’s podium.

The day’s second match brought together Chinese Taipei’s fourth-seeded team of Lee Sheng Mu and Chien Yu Chin against the veteran eighth-seeded team of Nova Widianto and Vita Marissa. Sheng, which means “victory” in Chinese, showed his parents knew something the badminton world would later know, as Lee and Chien beat Widianto and Marissa 21-10, 23-21.

In the second game, Widianto and Marissa fought off two match points at 18-20 to tie the game at 20-20, but their hopes for a rubber game were soon dashed as Lee and Chien quickly won the next two points to end the match.  During the game, the Thai “crazy guy” cheerleaders began leading the fans in the familiar “IN-DO-NE-SIA” chant often heard when a large Indonesian crowd is present; it appeared to motivate Widianto and Marissa although their comeback fell just short.

In a light-hearted moment after the match, Chien laughed, “I was so excited about our win that I wanted to hug Sheng after we won, but he’s so polite all he did was shake my hand.”

Chien said about the match, “I thought the experienced Indonesian team figured out our strategy and began to win more points [in the second game]. I was very nervous because it was a final round match and when the crowd began to yell IN-DO-NE-SIA, we concentrated more. We were confident even when the score got close in the second game

Because I’m tall and strong, our strategy was to play more like a men’s team than a mixed doubles team. We wanted to play a more powerful game, like the men do,” she explained.

Seventh-seeded, twenty-year-old Li Xuerui of China provided the day’s only upset as she beat second-seeded team-mate Jiang Yanjiao in Sunday’s only three game match. Li showed an aggressive style of play, winning many points on uncontested smashes that left Jiang standing flat-footed and helpless.  Jiang took the first game by a score of 14-21, before losing the next two games by identical scores of 21-14, 21-14.

In men’s singles, top-seeded Chen Long won his first tournament since last December’s China Open beating Lee Hyun Il of Korea, the Open’s sixth seed. Lee displayed a tactical, defensive type of game designed to slow the game down and prevent Chen from using his powerful style of play; the strategy seemed to backfire in the first game as Lee made numerous unforced errors that led to an easy 21-8 first game victory for Chen. Lee didn’t change tactics in the second game and although it worked better, Chen was able to use his power game just enough to take the second game by a score of 21-19.

About his win, Chen said, “I feel very good about my victory and am excited to win again. The Thai audience was great; they encouraged me and helped me to win.” Regarding his future goals, “My goal is to win, play one game and one match at a time. I want to win more,” he added.

In the day’s final match, the top-seeded Korean team of Lee Youn Dae and Jung Jae Sung had a difficult first game in their matchup with Indonesia’s Alvent Yulianto Chandra and Hendra Aprida Gunawan. The veteran Indonesian team came back from an 11-17 deficit to tie the game at 19-all and the game see-sawed back and forth before the Korean pair was finally able to grab the win 24-22. The Koreans started out quickly in the second game before Chandra and Gunawan tied the game at 8-all, but from a 9-all tie, the Koreans sailed to victory by increasing their lead before finally winning it 21-14 to take the match.

The BWF tour will head to Singapore for the Singapore Super Series event, and then on to Jakarta for the Indonesian Open Premier Super Series tournament. Badzine will be there to present live coverage and live photos from the rest of this Southeast Asian leg of the tour.

Final results

WD: Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei [5] (CHN) bt Cheng Shu / Bao Yixin [7] (CHN)  21-7, 21-8
XD: Lee Sheng Mu / Chien Yu Chin [4] (TPE) bt Nova Widianto / Vita Marissa [8] (INA) 21-10, 23-21
WS: Li Xuerui [7] (CHN) bt Jiang Yanjiao [2] (CHN) 14-21, 21-14, 21-14
MS: Chen Long [1] (CHN) bt Lee Hyun Il [6] (KOR) 21-8, 21-19
MD: Jung Jae Sung / LeeYong Dae [1] (KOR) bt Alvent Yulianto Chandra / Hendra Aprida Gunawan [4] (INA) 24-22, 21-14

For detailed results, CLICK HERE

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