RUSSIAN OPEN 2011 SF – All-northeastern finals

The home team at the Russian Open Grand Prix in Vladivostok will attempt to wrest two golds from visiting Japan while China has already wrapped up both singles titles. By […]

The home team at the Russian Open in Vladivostok will attempt to wrest two golds from visiting Japan while China has already wrapped up both singles titles.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

The 2011 Russian Open featured the strongest field yet for the fledgling Grand Prix tournament.  Even with the early withdrawal of recently re-injured World Champion Wang Lin, China still made its presence keenly felt, especially in the singles disciplines.  Wang’s predecessor, 2009 World Champion Lu Lan took care of women’s singles top seed Sayaka Sato in two quick games.  Meanwhile, Chen Xiaojia (pictured) became the first of two 2009 Asian Junior Champions from China, both unseeded, to see their way through to Sunday’s final in Vladivostok, as she dealt with Japan’s  Ai Goto in even less time.

After Chen, it was the turn of Tian Houwei (pictured) and Tian reached his first international final since winning the World Junior title two years ago, prevailing in three games over second-seeded Lithuanian Kestutis Navickas.  Tian, too, will face a compatriot in the final on Sunday as Zhou Wenlong beat Singapore’s Derek Wong in the other semi-final.

Although they were denied twice in the women’s singles, Japan did wrap up the men’s doubles gold as the event continued to stay on seed with favourites Naoki Kawamae / Shoji Sato beating defending champions Vladimir Ivanov / Ivan Sozonov while Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa ousted 2010 runners-up Vitalij Durkin and Alexandr Nikolaenko.

Nikolaenko did once again make it through to the mixed doubles final.  He and last year’s double-gold-medallist Valeri Sorokina beat Hayakawa and partner Misaki Matsutomo in the semi-finals on Saturday.  They will face another Japanese pair in the final as veterans Shintaro Ikeda / Reiko Shiota ended China’s challenge in two games.

Sorokina, meanwhile is still on track for another two title performance as she and partner Nina Vislova denied 2007 World Junior Champions Xie Jing / Zhong Xianjin their first podium appearance at the senior level, edging the young Chinese pair 24-26, 21-16, 21-17 in the afternoon’s longest match.  The Russian ladies were apparently not ready to let themselves be shown up by any young upstarts on their home courts.  Last summer, they had been eliminated from the Worlds in a nail-biter to the team that lost the 2007 junior final to Xie/Zhong.

The Russians will face Japan in the women’s doubles final as well, since Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi bounced American sisters Iris and Rena Wang (pictured) to get a shot at their second Grand Prix final.

For complete semi-final results, CLICK HERE

24-26 21-16 21-17
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 @