NEW ZEALAND OPEN 2013 SF – Xue on Song for second final

All the doubles’ top seeds made their way into the finals, but some had to put in sweat and blood to book their place. Meanwhile, a new generation of singles […]

All the doubles’ top seeds made their way into the finals, but some had to put in sweat and blood to book their place. Meanwhile, a new generation of singles players is fast rising through the ranks with Xue Song reaching his second final in the Oceania region.

By Kira Rin, Badzine Correspondent, live in Auckland. Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives).

Tactical singles

The men’s singles between Xue Song (pictured right) and Lee Dong Keun became a game of finding the right opportunities to smash. Too often, one would smash, only to see it returned and have to rush to retrieve it, leaving a perfect opportunity for the defender to smash it down solidly. Xue experienced this early on; as Lee reacted fast enough to retrieve the Chinese player’s pinpoint smashes.

Lee Dong Keun tried to force Xue around the court, utilizing defenses to the net, but Xue was a step faster, able to use smashes finish rallies and will take his place in the finals, where he will face Riichi Takeshita who disposed of second seed Hsu Jen Hao in 2 long games.

The women’s singles, though, features the youngest finalist as Xue’s World Junior Championship runner-up counterpart Akane Yamaguchi (pictured) came through in three games past Malaysia Open runner-up Yao Xue.  The 15-year-old Yamaguchi must now face China’s Deng Xuan, who herself has a runner-up finish as her major distinction so far as she was the silver medallist at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

Young guns rising

The young pair of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen continued their dream run as they disposed of yet another Indonesian pair, this time beating Berry Angriawan and Yohanes Rendy Sugiarto in 3 games. Showcasing their long reach, enabling superb coverage and defense, the Chinese were able to play a rare counter attacking game. Enduring the Indonesian attacks, the Chinese pair tired their opposition out to catch the opportunity to smash back the shuttle. Angriawan and Sugiarto tried all the various attack options they had available, but none was able to get the shuttle past the Chinese defense consistently.

Intense attacks and defenses

In what was the most exciting match of the day, top seeds Riky Widianto and his partner Puspita Richi Dili (pictured below) faced off against Kim Dae Eun and Kin So Young. Almost right from the start, a high tempo of play was ensured, as Riky smashed and dropped madly from all over the back-court. The Koreans replied with superb defense, pushing and driving the shuttle. One rally went for over a minute, with both sides showcasing their best attacks and defenses, earning a big roar of approval from the crowd. However that was not enough to hold off the aggressive attacks, as the Koreans had to let the first game go, 17-21.

In a rare moment of sportsmanship, Dae Eun came up to protest a back line call, but then Riky held up his racquet in silent acknowledgement and apology for letting the shuttle fall there. The two men then made good with a quick high-five through the net.

From the second game onwards, a game the Koreans had to win, their increased intensity showed in their renewed attacks, forcing the Indonesians into defense. Tired from an intensive round of attacking earlier, Riky’s smashes were less penetrating and were much more easily defended allowing the Koreans to take the second game.

Backed into the corner, the Indonesian pair started a new round of attacking playin the third, and whilst the Koreans sometimes counterattacked, they were completely outclassed by Riky’s smashes, which seemed so much faster than before.

In the final, Riky and Puspita will face Praveen Jordan and Vita Marissa, who saw off Chen Hung Ling and Wu Ti Jung in two quick games.

When asked about his game Riky replied: “The first game was good, but then in the second game my stomach felt a bit uneasy so I had to rest and hold back. In the third game, I felt better and played more aggressively to win the match.”

Sweet revenge bites from across the Tasman

Malaysian women’s doubles pair, Vivian Hoo Kah Mun and Woon Khe Wei (pictured left) struggled against Aprilsasi Putri Lejarsar Variella and Vita Marissa, with Vita playing her second match of the day. While the Australian Open winners put up a fight with their tactical gameplay, it wasn’t enough to overcome the world number 19, who took their sweet revenge for their earlier defeat in Australia.

Finals line-up
XD: Riky Widianto Puspita Richi Dili (INA) [1] vs. Praveen Jordan / Vita Marissa (INA) [5]
WS: Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) vs. Deng Xuan (CHN) [3]
WD: Vivian Hoo / Woon Khe Wei (MAS) [1] vs. Ou Dongni / Tang Yuanting (CHN)
MS: Xue Song (CHN) vs. Riichi Takeshita (JPN) [11]
MD: Angga Pratama / Ryan Agung Saputra (INA) [1] vs. Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN)

Click here for complete semi-final results

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