CHINA MASTERS 2013 SF – Li haunted by Thailand again

A month after losing to Ratchanok Intanon in the final of the World Championships, Li Xuerui once again bit the dust against a Thai player – this time, Porntip Buranaprasertsuk. […]

A month after losing to Ratchanok Intanon in the final of the World Championships, Li Xuerui once again bit the dust against a Thai player – this time, Porntip Buranaprasertsuk. Apart from this hiccup and the weakness in the men’s doubles,  Chine ends of with 5 finalists, 2 of them guaranteeing a women’s doubles title. Korea took up the other spots, leaving only 2 spots for Thailand and Japan.

By Kira Rin. Photos (archives): Badminonphoto

Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (photo) walked in the footsteps of her now famous compatriot Intanon by beating Li Xuerui. Their semi-final  was characterized by quick drives, sometimes to the body. It almost became a game of dodge the shuttle with players sidestepping to watch the shuttle sail out. Xuerui unsuccessfully challenged a couple of line calls where she thought the shuttle was going out but was called in. Alas, her hope ended when she hit the shuttle out at the final point and she bowed 16-21, 21-15, 20-22.

In the other semi-final, Liu Xin (photo) kept the shuttle flying low and mostly at Sayaka Takahashi’s front court. Despite that, Sayaka was almost able to erase a 7-point deficit, from 13-20 down, until Liu Xin earned a lucky point to conclude the first game 21 -17.  From then on, the spectators were treated to a fast and furious display of singles rarely seen at top levels. Both sides would play quick nets and front shots in an attempt to gain a high lift that would present a perfect opportunity to attack. Many a time, the players bent over in exhaustion, sometimes diving for a shot that was landing a little out of their reach. Agonizing did not help Sayaka as she struggled valiantly for shots just a step away. Liu Xin was lucky to walk away from the tiring match after just 2 games.

Men’s Doubles – A crumbling wall

Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa (photo) suffered a minor scare when they dropped the first game to Chai Biao and Hong Wei. However, they justified their top 10 status with their athletic agility, jumping to hit steep and fast shots. Chai and Hong tried to match their pace, but were not able to control the shuttle well, as they would often hit it out or let a shot fly past only to see it land in.

Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun showed they were still a partnership to be reckoned with when they took out Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan seemingly effortlessly. Lee Yong Dae commandeered the match, setting himself to the front while forcing shots to be returned high for his trusted partner to smash. In taking the match, they ended China’s hope in the men’s doubles.

Mixed Doubles – A hard day for indonesia

Against seasoned veterans Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, Markis Kido and Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth were unable to get as many shuttles past as they wanted. Even when Zhao was pushed to the back, she was able to strike as hard as her partner, playing their match almost like a men’s doubles match.

The Indonesians on the other side of the draw fared no better as they went down in 2 games to Yoo Yeon Seong and Eon Hye Won. Riky Widianto and Puspita Richi Dili managed to fight off 2 game points in the first game, even getting their own game point to convert. Unfortunately, they let slip the precious game point and the Koreans converted the next opportunity that came along. The Indonesians could not recover from the setback, and with the Koreans pressuring them, bowed out 17 – 21.

With the victory, two Korean pairs have made the final of what could well be their last matches together, as both Ko/Lee and Yoo/Eom will have been disbanded by the time the resumes next month.

Men’s Singles – Wang on top

Sho Sasaki started off with a strong attacking game, gaining points from smashes or quick drops. Combined with a weak start from Son Wan Ho, the former world #6 was able to take the first game.

While Sho had the benefit of experience, even being able to return a fast point blank net drive on instinct, his body could not keep up, with his offensive edge getting duller with each and every smash hit. Son saw the opportunity to get used to the attacks and came up with counters to crawl back into the lead. The Japanese veteran still managed to keep attacking to the very end, with only 2 unlucky mistakes putting Son into his first Superseries final since he won the Indian Open in 2012.

While China is assured of at least one title in women’s doubles, with Ma Jin and Tang Jinhua facing off Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang for the lion’s share of the prize money, Wang Zhengming (photo)  kept the red flag flying high in the men’s singles as he took another 3 games to see off Danish viking Jan O Jorgensen, having earlier sent off Viktor Axelsen during the first round. There was neither an attacking nor defending side, as both players exchanged fast strokes, punishing mistakes.

In the deciding game, erasing a 6-point difference, the hot headed Zhengming played a heated offensive game, smashing as many times as he could to gain points. Still, mistakes from both sides kept the score line even until 21-all after Jorgensen had wasted a match point, where Zhengming, following advice from his coaches to calm down, coolly pushed the shots to create opportunities to secure the final 2 critical points.

Women’s doubles – Red wall standing

Yet again Ma Jin and Tang Jinhua find themselves facing off compatriots Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang. Both pairs had little trouble to get through the semi-final stage and will – as often – give China pride in an all-Chinese affair on Sunday.

Finals line-up
WD: Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) [1] vs. Ma Jin / Tang Jinhua (CHN) [2]
MD: Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae (KOR) [1] vs. Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa (JPN) [2]
WS: Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (THA) vs. Liu Xin (CHN)
MS: Wang Zhengming (CHN) [7] vs. Son Wan Ho (KOR)
XD: Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) [2] vs. Yoo Yeon Seong / Eom Hye Won (KOR)

Click here for complete semi-final results

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