CANADA OPEN 2011 SF – Zwiebler to meet Taufik in final

Marc Zwiebler finally silenced Japanese upstart Kazumasa Sakai to add at least a Grand Prix final to his list of accomplishments of late, and earn a shot at the defending […]

Marc Zwiebler finally silenced Japanese upstart Kazumasa Sakai to add at least a final to his list of accomplishments of late, and earn a shot at the defending champion.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Richmond.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

Marc Zwiebler (pictured) made sure that it was Germany’s run of success this week that continued rather than that of Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai as he shut his challenger down in two quick games to book his spot in the finals, a distinction that has eluded him since late 2009, despite his recent success.

“I watched videos of Sakai’s match yesterday with Abian and I did some homework on him,” said Zwiebler.  “I knew his ranking wasn’t good but that that was due mainly to having not played many tournaments, so I did respect him and took everything very seriously.

“I think I was better than him today but even when I was leading, I knew that some of the young Asian players can be very risky and come up with some crazy shots and then suddenly be back into it.

“I think I’m playing at my best now but not playing my best all the time.  This may be my best form ever but I hope I’m not at my peak just yet.

“It would be really good for me to come to the stage where Peter Gade is at where he always reaches the quarter- or semi-final more or less and he doesn’t lose to worse players because he’s mentally really good and that’s my goal: to get good results more often.

Zwiebler finished his match, of course, immediately looking forward to the final and a likely rematch with defending champion Taufik Hidayat, whom he beat last week at the U.S. Open but he denied that beating top players was an especial boost to his confidence.

“I’m happy for a good result but only for about 30 minutes, and then I’ll get over it and just concentrate on the next tournament and I can’t really enjoy my success now.  Maybe after my career, I can look back and be proud of what I have achieved but in my personal opinion, if you’re satisfied, then you’ve just got to stop working on it.

Success for Marc, success for Germany

Marc Zwiebler is of course not the only German to do well here.  After a title and two runner-up finishes in last summer’s North American tour, Marc became the second German to book his spot for Sunday, after Michael Fuchs / Birgit Michels won one of the first matches of the day, and two more chances were to follow for the new European power.

“We are a very good team, we are all friends and we even go on vacations together and everything,” explained Zwiebler.  “You can see that especially in team events, we have a very good relationship with each other.

“I think you can see in this tournament, there are a lot of Germans in the semi-finals and hopefully in the final but overall, in the last five years, we have become stronger, and in every discipline.

“I think it started with Xu Huiawen, who was Chinese, obviously, so we can’t really say that her success is our reward or anything but she helped us all a whole lot and as you can see with Juliane, who is absolutely world class and in every discipline, the top German is in the world’s top 10 or 15.

“Even though it’s a different discipline, they see that if I beat Taufik or Chen Jin, that it’s also possible even if we practice only in Germany, to still compete with players who have much better sparring and much more experience.

“It’s always hard for me in practice because I’m always practicing with German players who are not the level of Taufik or Lee Chong Wei or somebody so participating in a tournament, it’s like competing 5 leagues above what I have at home.  It almost feels like if you’re driving a normal car and then you get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 or something.

“But even in our surroundings and our system, we can compete in the world class.  For the younger ones, it’s brilliant to see because they know in practice that I have the same coaches as I do and they know that if they can beat me, they can also become world class.”

China and Germany both to go for two titles

Germany’s success was not to continue past Marc Zwiebler’s win, however, as Kindervater/Schoettler and Marinello/Michels both lost to lower-ranked Chinese pairs in two games.  China was unable to wrap up the women’s doubles title, however, as Luo/Luo lost a close one to top seeds Cheng/Chien of Chinese Taipei.  The Luo sisters put on a real show against the world number two pair and the thrilling rally that erased Cheng/Chien’s first match point was met with grand cheers from the crowd, only to give way to groans of disappointment as the Luos’ final serve failed to cross the tape.

As has been the pattern all week, marquee players Taufik Hidayat and Lee Yong Dae finished off proceedings on the centre court.  Both had shaky starts with Taufik dropping a game before wearing down Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki in three.  Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun (pictured), meanwhile trailed the Thais 13-19 in the first game before stringing together 8 straight points to clinch it, whereupon Lee Yong Dae dropped his racquet and celebrated boisterously, as if he’d already won the title.

The Koreans romped through the second game 21-10 and are now on a hot streak that will make it very difficult for China’s Liu/Qiu to take the title away from them.

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Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @