HONG KONG OPEN 2012 SF – Wang Yihan tastes sweet revenge

Wang Yihan may have lost to Juliane Schenk last week on her home soil in Shanghai, but the world number one put things back in order and will play Olympic […]

Wang Yihan may have lost to Juliane Schenk last week on her home soil in Shanghai, but the world number one put things back in order and will play Olympic Champion Li Xuerui in Sunday’s final, while Chen Long will take on Lee Chong Wei in the expected final of the men’s singles event.

By Thibault Bluy and Xavier Lee, Badzine Correspondents live in Hong Kong. Photos by Badmintonphoto (live)

The women’s singles saw a tough beginning to the first semi-final for Juliane Schenk (photo), who made too many mistakes. In contrast, the World number one Wang Yihan was particularly efficient, concluding the first game to a score of only 21-8. After this shy beginning however, the tournament’s #5 seed attempted more and as a result, reaped the rewards. The great fight that was expected started then, with longer points, faster moves and stronger smashes. Juliane led for much of the second game, eventually taking four straight points to level the match, 21-19.

I lost quite straight in the first set, and then tried to focus again and keep up the speed,” the German player analysed. “We had a thrilling second set. At the beginning, it was quite good for me. But nevertheless, she fought back, and was quite strong. I never gave up. I think we both tried our best to show very good badminton today. She deserved the main key points a little bit more hard than the rest of the set. Only one can win.”

And unfortunately for the German, it was not her day today. After leading in the early stages of the deciding game, the tall and strong Chinese player eventually overcame her opponent to win 21-15.

Juliane Schenk was apparently not put out by the result, “I had three really tiring matches before, it is the second week in the row, it is the sixth week almost in the row… So, what to complain about? It is simply great!” she said, who will now take a flight back to Germany to celebrate her 30th birthday at home on Monday.

Olympic final rematch – Take one

It will be a rematch of the Olympic final as Li Xuerui (photo) also scooped her ticket for the final. Li Xuerui finds herself in contention for her first Hong Kong title after sweeping aside team-mate Wang Lin. The contrast in styles was apparent, Wang playing with a skillful, if inconsistent, attacking flare, versus Li who used her pace and solid defense to inflict pressure on Wang. Li eventually found the winners to send her through to the final as her steady approach paid dividends, knocking out the 2010 World Champion, winning 21-12, 21-13.

Li had only kind words for her compatriot saying, “It’s great to see such support for her after the return from injury, it’s her first time in a semi-final since beginning her recovery. Of course, I also enjoy the support I receive from Hong Kong spectators!”

Meanwhile, Wang confirmed that Li’s power suppressed her play today, leaving her only able to react to her shots: “As an Olympic champion, she demonstrated her absolute strength but I am happy with my performances in this year’s Superseries tournaments and encouraged for the future. I cannot compare to the past.  It’s a very different circumstance.”

Li Xuerui’s Olympic shirt is being auctioned at the same time on E-bay for Solibad until November 25th. Click HERE to find out more

Top seeds advance in men’s singles too

Chen Long (photo) showed good form despite the best efforts of his Indonesian adversary, who managed to pull off some improbable defence. Tommy Sugiarto (photo) was surpassed by the Chinese man’s speed, precision and powerful cross-court smashes, and noticeably faded in the second game as he struggled to judge length. The final score was 21-18, 21-10 to Chen in a victory full of offensive authority, his opponent giving him a “50-50” chance against Malaysian Lee Chong Wei in the final tomorrow.

Lee Chong Wei found himself chasing the lead against young Kenichi Tago of Japan, 16-18 down in the first game. It did not seem in doubt, however, that the Malaysian could find another gear and power through the match, and indeed he did take the victory 21-19, 21-15. Tago covered the court well, taking his opportunities where he could but became easily frustrated at disputed line calls. For all his qualities, it was never enough to cope with Lee’s change of pace and dictation of play.

Fitting in with the mood of many other players, Lee was unnerved by the occasion, preferring to think warmer thoughts of family and happiness, “I don’t like to think too much of the final tomorrow or the prize money.  My wish is just to take my wife to enjoy a nice meal after my match in Hong Kong. Without feeling content or healthy, money has no worth to us.

All results HERE

About Thibault Bluy