THOMAS CUP 2012 SF – Imperial China

China advanced once again to the final without dropping a single match in Wuhan, stopping Japan’s great run in the semis. Chen Long provided the last blow against Kenichi Tago, […]

China advanced once again to the final without dropping a single match in Wuhan, stopping Japan’s great run in the semis. Chen Long provided the last blow against Kenichi Tago, who despite the score of 21-13, 21-16, took an hour to complete his task. The Chinese armada is now set to meet a boosted Korean team, whom earned confidence after a valuable win today against Denmark 3-1.

By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

You don’t often get to see an anxious Lin Dan, but on Saturday, China’s marvel felt the pressure on his shoulder against Sho Sasaki (photo), a player who has beaten Lin in the past.

Sho was obviously on a quest to once again defeat the World and Olympic champion. The quiet Japanese played, as usual, with high intensity, despite the Chinese legend releasing those shots from out of nowhere that only Lin Dan can achieve.

Sho Sasaki played at the high level today, he was there during the key points, I always had to adjust my game, he played really well,” admitted the world #2 Lin Dan in his post-match conference press.

This is a true statement, as Sho did bring Lin Dan to the prolongation, saving several game points before bowing out 21-23.  The narrow loss was not enough to break the Japanese veteran’s mental strength, though, as Sho took a quick lead in the second game, seeing here a glimpse of another win against the best player of all time.  That is, until Lin Dan changed his fate, adding incredible speed to his game, and playing with his wide range of shots, too strong for the Japanese to handle.

Despite losing, the Japanese proved he still is a serious threat to top players in the next Olympic Games. “We both have lots of pressure on our shoulders.  I really wanted to win but I still lost, it’s sad because there won’t be lots of opportunities like that before the Olympics but I will still enjoy those and train hard,” revealed Sasaki after his 21-23, 17-21 defeat.

World Champions Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng were then asked to appear on court, against Shoji Sato and Naoki Kawamae (photo) a pair they had played already five times in the past year time, with always a win on the Chinese side.  Today was no different, yet the Japanese were not willing to give a rest to the world number pair, pushing them to give their utmost in every rally.

Today’s game was very intense.  Even if our opponents don’t seem that strong and their ranking not that high, the level in men’s doubles is still pretty close, but we are at home and the support helped us conclude the match on a positive note,” Cai Yun told the Sina media website.

A confirmation of Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng status, who are known for being very hard to beat mostly in team events “We played this pair six times now in a year, and we won all encounters so we didn’t have a huge burden on us.  Still fortunately the victory is on our side,” added Fu Haifeng after their 25-23, 21-18 win against the Japanese.

With the absence of Jung Jae Sung, the Chinese also emphasized their urge to win tomorrow against Korea, as the Korean pair, Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung remains their main competitors to the London gold medal.

Chen Long, was given an opportunity to avenge his quarter-final defeat at the last All England, against Kenichi Tago, in the second singles of this encounter. Despite being two great friends off-courts, both were more than willing to bring vital points to their own team.

After my defeat at the All England, I really wanted to win this match.  Since it’s at home, I knew I could get the support of the crowd, like adding gas for me to be filled up,” the tall Chinese Chen Long (photo) told Sina.

And he did indeed do well, despite the one-hour battle, the Chinese player always found a way to finish off the rally on a positive mark, while the Japanese seemed to have lost at some point his magical touch.

Although I think I can perform better, I still prepared a lot for that match, yet I lost again but there was nothing else I could do as I gave my best today,” admitted Kenichi Tago to Sina.

Another possible reason of Chen Long’s fabulous win today was that his parents came especially to see their son, now one of the pillars of the Chinese team. It was a blessed day therefore for the Chinese who earned his team a ticket to the final after a 21-13, 21-16 win.

Korea is now awaiting them on Sunday, for a rematch of the 2008 final, still the Chinese remains the biggest favourites to hold the trophy on their own ground.


China 3, Japan 0
MS1: Lin Dan bt Sho Sasaki 23-21, 21-17
MD1: Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng bt Naoki Kawamae / Shoji Sato 25-23, 21-18
MS2: Chen Long bt Kenichi Tago 21-13, 21-16
(not played)
Hong Wei / Shen Ye vs. Hirokatsu Hashimoto / Noriyasu
Chen Jin vs. Takuma Ueda

About Tarek Hafi