HONG KONG OPEN 2012 QF – Chinese doubles on the march

China looks for a third title sweep this year, with three all-Chinese semis and a chance at three all-Chinese finals after an especially strong quarter-finals day for their doubles pairs. […]

China looks for a third title sweep this year, with three all-Chinese semis and a chance at three all-Chinese finals after an especially strong quarter-finals day for their doubles pairs.

By Xavier Lee, Badzine Correspondent live in Hong Kong.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

The young Chinese men’s pair of Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan (pictured) continued their fine run of matches at the Yonex Sunrise , beating Hoon Thien How and Tan Wee Kiong.  Having got to game point at 20-17 in the first game, the Malaysians couldn’t close it out before letting Liu and Qiu come back, eventually getting the better of their Malaysian opponents 27-25.

“We were playing a really hard game, playing the shuttle deep, trying not to give our opponents the chance to attack and waiting for the opening,” remarked Liu post-match.

Going 20-18 up in the second game, Hoon and Tan again failed to close the match and then lost the opportunity.  Fierce exchanges of the shuttle and fast drives skimming the net continued to dominate proceedings, neither pair willing to give away the chance to attack.  This time the Malaysians lost out 21-23 to give the unseeded Chinese pairing a chance to level the match at 1 game apiece.  However, the deciding rubber turned into a more one-sided affair with China’s up-and-coming prospects taking a commanding lead early on to claim it 21-13.

“I think we mainly tried to stay focused on playing to our strengths, using our speed because the opponents are also very good at their attack but they are possibly slower,” said Liu.

“We will try our best to win every match we play because we have confidence.  If we have to meet our ‘big brothers’ Cai and Fu in the next round, we will try our best to fight and we’ll see.”

The win secures their place in the semi-finals where they are, as it turns out, to meet Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng (pictured).  The second seeds and reigning Olympic champions won 21-17, 21-15 against the new Indonesian combination of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.

“We are feeling a lot better after yesterday,” explained Cai.  “We have never played against Liu and Qiu before in competition, of course we are team-mates and know each other very well.  If the young players can beat us, they would proceed to the final and would certainly give a very hard fight.  We also want to get as many points as possible to ensure qualification for the Finals.”

Cai and Fu cannot finish in the top eight of the Superseries rankings but making the quarter-finals put them ahead of Indonesia’s best so at #9, they can be sent if their compatriots Hong/Shen cannot participate in Shenzhen for whatever reason.

In the mixed doubles event, Denmark’s Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen (pictured) swept aside their opponents from Indonesia, sixth seeds Fran Kurniawan and Shendy Puspa Irawati.  Having surrendered the lead 10-3 early on in the match, the Indonesian pair fought their way back into the game only to concede the first game 21-23 for a close and entertaining opener.

Into the second game and it was plain sailing for the only Danes left in the whole competition (who are also yet to concede a game), who won it comfortably 21-8 to continue their run into the semi-finals.

Fischer Nielsen was understandably content following his quarter-final win: “We kept our speed high and in the end had an easy second game.  Our performances in this tournament have been getting better.  After our disappointment in the Olympics we’ve been studying to get in better shape.  We believe in our game and will keep fighting together.”

Coincidentally, the Danes will be facing their Olympic demons on Saturday when they will be playing the team that beat them in the semi-finals in London, eventual gold medallists Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei.  In the other semi-final, Chan/Goh of Malaysia will play a rematch of last Sunday’s final against Xu/Ma, in a concurrent effort to block an all-Chinese final.

Click here for complete quarter-final results

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