CHINA MASTERS 2011 SF – China’s chance at fourth clean sweep

With at least a Chinese name in each discipline on Sunday, China’s hope for their fourth – and third consecutive – clean sweep of the Li Ning China Masters still […]

With at least a Chinese name in each discipline on Sunday, China’s hope for their fourth – and third consecutive – clean sweep of the Li Ning still glows. However, if plan fails this year, it would be caused by the missing of the gold in the men’s or mixed doubles event – or both, where Korean challengers lurk.

By Ooi Ee Lyn, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

Wangs are not always better. Wang Lin was China Masters champion in 2006, while Wang Shixian and Wang Xin had their crowns in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Yet, Wang Yihan is now left as the only Wang who hasn’t topped the event, as all she could do in the semi-finals today was trail along behind Jiang Yanjiao, as the latter sprinted into the final before her eyes.

Jiang was up in arms in her run for the title. She may have started off quietly, but today she showed up as one of the silent runners for the crown. Wang was no match for her compatriot, as she was left behind from start to finish a clean 21-15, 21-15 straight-game win for Jiang. Jiang Yanjiao will meet Wang Shixian, who is on the way to clinching her second China Masters title, while she tries her part to get her name into the event’s hall of fame.

The women’s singles final might not be dominated by the Wangs, but the men’s singles final will be a battle between Chens. Chen Jin seemed to be eager to recall the moment he clinched gold in 2006, as he showed Lin Dan no mercy and trashed the four-time winner in 25-23, 21-15 to get the second spot in the final, after Chen Long. This year’s crown will then be fought for by the 2006 champion and the 2010 silver medallist in the finals tomorrow.

Of past winners and newcomers

In the women’s doubles, Yu Yang looks forward to equalling Lin Dan’s achievement as four-time champion of the event. She had earned the title twice with Du Jing, in the 2005 and 2009 edition of the event, and is currently defending the gold with Wang Xiaoli. This evening, Wang/Yu took three games – and recorded the longest lasting match of the day – to get rid of Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei – both of whom have previously tasted the air at the summit of China Masters – one in another discipline, the other with a different partner. Wang/Yu are now the only bullets left to take down the raging young pair of Xia/Tang in the finals.

As for the men, Korea’s Jung/Lee earned their eighth victory in 11 meetings on record with Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen after today’s match. It took the Koreans a decider to snatch the finals ticket from the Danes, as they lost the second game 16-21 after taking the first 21-18. Despite Boe/Mogensen taking a brief lead in the deciding game, Jung/Lee went on and nailed their victory 21-17, thus ending the match a minute less than the day’s longest. The Koreans will meet Cai/Fu tomorrow to make up for their loss in the semi-finals in London, as well as giving their best shot at gobbling a gold from the Chinese.

Up come fresh face finalists

India’s Diju Valiyaveetil / Jwala Gutta were, after the end of the first game, expected to take on Xu Chen / Ma Jin in the finals of this US$200,00 China Masters tomorrow, as they pulled a surprisingly easy win on Yoo Yeon Seong / Jang Ye Na in 21-6. However, that had awakened the giants within the Koreans and the Indians were left to trail in most of the rallies in the following games, before Yoo/Jang triumphantly clinched the very last finals entrance pass by taking the next two games 21-19, 21-19.

Yoo/Jang may be new – as a pair – but they are now the final obstacles in the way of All England champions Xu Chen / Ma Jin, as well as China’s second threat to achieving their third consecutive clean sweep.

The China Masters first began in 2005, but thus far, only players of four nations – namely China the biggest winner, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Denmark – have managed to place their hands on the titles. Like every other year, many players from lots of other countries are hungry for the crown, and this year, if China fails at their hat trick, a new flag will make its way into the chamber to add up to the existing visitor champions in the event’s history.

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About Ee-Lyn Ooi