INDIA OPEN 2012 SF – 11th hour London ticket for Koreans

Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun / Kim Ha Na became the third new qualifier for the London Olympics in the last two days – and probably the last of the year […]

Korea’s / Kim Ha Na became the third new qualifier for the London Olympics in the last two days – and probably the last of the year – as they beat Japan’s Fujii/Kakiiwa in the semi-finals of the 2012 Yonex-Sunrise .

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

After quarter- and semi-final finishes in New Delhi earned five new London tickets, Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na (pictured) left all their packing for the very last minute.  For months now, they have been chasing Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin for the crucial world #8 spot, where they need to be to accompany compatriots Ha/Kim to the Olympics.   However, those last few thousand points have kept on eluding them…until now.

Even in Saturday’s India Open semi-finals, though, the Koreans took their time, ceding a one-sided first game, turning the tables in the second, and then playing catch-up throughout the decider before finally evening the score at 17-all and going on to win 21-19.  Cheng/Chien will still qualify for the Olympics but the extra top 8 pair means that Malaysia’s duelling pairs will both be left behind, as the quarter-final finish of India’s Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa turned out to have been necessary after all, as it nudged them into the 13th spot ahead of Chin/Wong.

Thais thrill

The afternoon began with Thai pairs providing the bulk of the thrills on the centre TV court at the India Open Saturday.  The first match on the day to go the distance was also the first upset. Bodin Issara / Maneepong Jongjit (pictured) took care of last year’s runners-up Angga Pratama / Ryan Agung Saputra of Indonesia in three games.

The Thais, of course, had booked their ticket to London back on Thursday, when they qualified for the quarter-finals.  The similar progress by Koo/Tan had put the Malaysians in the #8 position, ahead of defending Olympic champions Kido/Setiawan, while the Thais’ performance edged them ahead of first reserves Adcock/Ellis.

The Thais clearly had a preference for an actual impressive performance in a Superseries, however.  Attacking everything in sight, they weathered a slight lapse of nerves at the end of the second game to maintain their concentration throughout the deciding game and achieve yet another first, turning their first ever Superseries semi-final into a first ever finals appearance on this size stage.

The first match had seen Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thounthongkam (pictured below) exacting a little payback from the dangerous Tao Jiaming / Bao Yixin.  As a brand-new pair, the Chinese had, of course, beaten the Thais at the China Open Superseries Premier last fall en route to the semi-finals.

This time, however, the thai veterans wouldn’t let that happen.  After remaining in control throughout most of the first game, they trailed for most of the second, before catching up at 17-all and moving in for the kill.  They will meet All England champions Ahmad/Natsir in the final after the latter made quick work of Korea’s Lee/Ha.

Hsu Jen Hao of Chinese Taipei may have established himself as the giant-killer at this year’s India Open but upsetting Simon Santoso or Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and toppling the mighty Lee Chong Wei are entirely different tasks.

Hsu displayed plenty of spirit and athleticism but, as always, Lee was just a little bit faster, a little more powerful, and a lot more consistent than his opponent.

Shon sets on home hopes

Parupalli Kashyap (pictured) of India was the last Indian in this year’s edition and he had the hopes and the cheers of the New Delhi crowd.  Shon Wan Ho of Korea, on the other hand, had already had the crowd against him on Friday, even though he wasn’t then playing against a local shuttler, but rather facing the legendary Peter Gade.

Both men, of course, had booked their Olympic tickets on the previous day.  Shon had moved into the top 16 with his win over Peter Gade.  Chen Jin, whose spot in the top 4 was secured with Gade’s exit, turned up injured and allowed Kashyap to advance into the semis, and thus to pass compatriot Ajay Jayaram as the top-ranked Indian.

Shon was dominant in the first game but Kashyap continued to reel him in in the second, as the Korean had trouble finding the lines, although he often tended to differ with the line judges on that count.  Kashyap, after surging ahead to take the second game, forced Shon to start the decider in the role of chaser.

But chase he did, and on the strength of a 10-2 run, Shon took a commanding 18-12 lead, from which the home favourite never recovered.  The Korean, like the Thai men’s doubles pair, now moves into his first ever Superseries final from his first ever Superseries semi-final.

Women’s shake-up

China’s Bao Yixin / Zhong Qianxin earned a spot in their third consecutive final as they continued to steamroll through the best Japanese and Korean pairs.  After seeing off top seeds Ha/Kim on Friday, today it was the turn of Miyuki Maeda /  Satoko Suetsuna, the only top Japanese pair the Chinese did not beat last week in Qingdao.

The women’s singles will feature All England and Asian Champion Li Xuerui, who benefitted from the second Chinese forfeit of the week, against European Championship runner-up Juliane Schenk, who beat Indonesia Grand Prix Gold winner Chen Xiaojia in two straight.

“It feels very good to beat two Chinese in a row,” said Schenk after her match.  “It’s a good sign for the Olympics. I’m looking forward to going on from here.  Reaching the final… I felt a perfect flow [in the semifinal].

“It’s a big challenge to beat three Chinese in a row.  It’s about enjoying and full concentration.  I heard [Chen Xiaojia’s] name at the last tournament.  Each of the Chinese has special skills but they all have speed and are very confident.”

China will be gunning for both women’s titles on Sunday, while Thailand will also be going for two.  Korea, which saw world #4 Ko/Yoo, into the final, is in the running for three titles.

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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 @