WORLDS 2011 Day 3 – Pi’s back, Spanish speakers shine again

Shuttlers from the Latin world had a ball on Wednesday in Wembley when Pi Hongyan crushed 8th seed Bae Youn Joo of Korea while Pablo Abian sent Marc Zwiebler packing […]

Shuttlers from the Latin world had a ball on Wednesday in Wembley when Pi Hongyan crushed 8th seed Bae Youn Joo of Korea while Pablo Abian sent Marc Zwiebler packing after one of the best matches of the day, securing a third round clash against fellow Spanish speaker Kevin Cordon of Guatemala. Big guns came through except for Taufik who went down to young Singaporean fighter Derek Wong.

France’s Pi Hongyan (photo) couldn’t dream of a better start at the World Championship. The thirty-two-year-old player – who recently admitted these Championships were happening way too early after she had important surgery, preventing her from holding a racket for several months – proved she could still count on her experience and magnificent tactic. The Chinese-born French shuttler beat no less than the 8th seed from Korea, Bae Youn Joo, who had beaten her before. Despite the pain and several months away from court and training, Pi Hongyan proved to be back on the right path after she dropped to 23rd in the world rankings.

I had prepared for a long time for this match especially. I’ve watched hours of video and I was well prepared. Maybe I should do this more often. I’m very pleased with my performance. She was seeded and I managed to beat her. I’m not still fit enough to play at this speed all three games but I was able to stay focused at the right time,” Pi said after her 21-9, 13-21, 21-15 success.

A Japanese will be waiting for her in the next round: Sato Sayaka, recent U.S. Open finalist, managed to beat Olga Konon to get her ticket to the third round and the French player knows she’ll have a tough time against the Japanese wonder.

Now, my next round will be tough too but I’m already pleased to have gone through this second round. We’ll see what happens next – I’m not thinking about the medal yet. The most important is that I find my old level again,” said Pi.

Saina : “50/50 chance of bringing back gold

Chloe Magee was violently waken up from her dream by India’s superstar Saina Nehwal, not willing to be at all lenient as she wouldn’t let herself being surprised as was Firdasari yesterday. The Indian, who admitted she improved in several aspects of the game, made it clear with a 21-10, 21-7 win.

I’m pleased with my performance; This is one of my best starts ever in the . I feel good here; I’m away from the media from home, and in a way, it’s easier to relax and focus on my matches. The stadium looks great and I’m playing well,” said Saina.

Saina, being of the very few players to consistently beat the Chinese, will have, once again, to overcome this hurdle if she wants to win her first ever World Championships on the senior tour after her success amongst the Juniors in the same event.

As for the Chinese, I think that they’ve been troubled by many different opponents. They will be under pressure. I don’t fear them, really. I’m just going to go out and give my best.” When asked what were her chances were of bringing back gold, the soft-spoken girl answered in a wit : “I’d say 50/50.

The Hyderabad girl will meet another great fighter in the name Yip Pui Yin (photo), who last beat her in the Asian Games. Nevertheless, the Hong Kong girl will probably need to physically get better after a very tough match against Michelle Li which lasted three tough games.

I’m very glad I won today because she was dangerous. She’s tall and I had seen her play at the Sudirman Cup and I knew she was dangerous. I didn’t know what to expect here as I am back from a month of no training after my knee injury. So I haven’t set myself any targets here. I’ll play Saina next and I beat her at the Asian Games, but my condition is still not 100% so we’ll see how it goes,” said Yip.

Amazing Fighter

Viewers and spectators would have certainly bet on a Marc Zwiebler versus Chen Long clash in the third round of the men’s singles event. However Hispanic countries decided to spice up the game with Kevin Gordon – winner again against Sweden’s Hurskainen – surprisingly joined by Spaniard Pablo Abian (photo), who edged out 14th seed Marc Zwiebler. The German seemed in Olympic form after his fantastic North-American tour, but the Spanish knight would certainly not let his compatriot Carolina Marin steal all the limelight.

The match was just an amazing fight between the elastic man Zwiebler with his usual touch, and the never-say-die Abian, who was sweating his way to every point. When Zwiebler came back from 17-20 to level up 20-20 in the decider, many thought that the Spanish player had let his chances go, but it wasn’t counting on Abian’s fighting spirit. He was back on top to finally win 21-17, 7-21, 24-22 and so happy that he tore his shirt apart, to the delight of the crowd.

I am very happy I was able to win this match. Kevin [Cordon] and I train together, and we joked about it when we saw the draw that we could meet in the third round, but neither one of us actually believed this could happen. It’s great for us and we’ll see how it goes. At practise sometime he wins, sometimes I win, so it will be an even fight. But I’m really happy about this win, which is the best of my career,” said Abian.

Taufik proven Wong

Later on, another shuttler was about to win the biggest match of his career when 22-year-old Derek Wong (photo) from Singapore edged out Taufik Hidayat, who found no solution to counter his young opponent’s speed and bowed 21-17, 21-14.

I think I played the right tactics today. I had played him before in the SEA Games 2 years ago and I knew I had to keep a high pace into the game to control it,” said Wong.  But I also knew I had to keep focus, even in the lead, because he’s the kind of player who can turn the tables around very quickly. So, I kept pressuring him with my attacks and I was able to keep the lead and win. It’s the best win of my career, but I’m not thinking of any medals yet. I just hope to qualify for the Olympics. This is my main target, especially now that I have seen the Hall it will be played in. I feel good here.”

The Singaporean will take on Hans-Kristian Vittinghus from Denmark in the third round. The Danish shuttler – who owes his qualification in this competition to his compatriot Jorgensen’s injury – beat France’s Lo Ying Ping in no time and could be the surprise guest of the quarter-final stage. Chen Jin will probably be waiting for the winner of Wong and Vitthingus then. Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei both had smooth days and made it to the third round as well.

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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 @