SUPERSERIES FINALS 2013 SF – Tai-Wang match a thriller

19-year-old Tai Tzu Ying provided the highlight of the day when she won a nailbiter over former champion Wang Shixian in the semi-finals of the BWF Superseries Finals in Kuala […]

19-year-old Tai Tzu Ying provided the highlight of the day when she won a nailbiter over former champion Wang Shixian in the semi-finals of the BWF Finals in Kuala Lumpur.

By Kira Rin and Nadhira Hafsha.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Tai Tzu Ying (pictured) is no stranger to tense finishes.  In fact, she has already dropped a 29-27 game in a final this year and she even went the full distance, to 30-29, a couple of years ago with her semi-final opponent Wang Shixian.  This match, however, was her chance to come out on the other side of a cliff-hanger.

With the long tactical games, Tai Tzu Ying and Wang Shixian (pictured below) each employed heavy use of cross-court shots in attempts to drain her opponent’s stamina.  At times, Tai would employ her cross net shots and heavy cross-court smashes, sometimes smashing so hard that she would not have any form for recovery and follow through.

Wang kept with her defensive playing style, trying to tire Tai out before too many points got past.  Even on the brink of exhaustion, often kneeling to catch her breath, Tai had the support of her parents and also the home crowd, mustering the energy to come from a game behind to take the second game in a very close 21-19.

With the final game, Wang kept on the pressure, bringing in her own cross-court smashes to gain points and keep the lead.  Tai wasn’t one to give up, keeping close tabs on the score line.  Erasing 3 match points, Tai brought the game to 20-all with a precise cross-court net shot hit from a dive.

The last 2 points would seem to be her longest 2 points, as she used every trick she could muster to put the shuttle down into her opponent’s court.  With a shallow flick lift, Tai finally managed to chalk up a victory against the previously unbeatable Wang Shixian, and in doing so has managed to get a match off each of the three Wangs.  It remains to be seen if she can repeat her feat against Li Xuerui in putting a mark on their head-to-head record.

“I never thought I would be able to make it to the final,” said Tai Tzu Ying afterward.  “I came here as the 9th qualifier.  I didn’t have any expectation that I could get this far because all the 8 competitors are very strong.

“Today I was just trying my best because this is the second time I met Wang Shixian in this tournament, we know each other very well, and for the final I will just try the same.

Asked what was going through her mind when she was trailing 16-19 in the decider, Tai said, “I was trained by the time, so I had nothing to lose, and I felt that Wang Shixian was the one who wanted to finish the game faster.  She was very eager to finish it faster so I tried to keep the rallies going and tried to get as many points as I could.

“Whenever I feel tired or am trailing, the crowd is always there for me, shouting my name, and I feel that this is very good,” said Tai, who also won the Malaysia Open here 11 months ago.  “I guess it’s because badminton in Malaysia is more popular than in Taiwan, and I hope that the crowd in Taiwan can be like the Malaysian crowd as well.”

Tommy left in the way of Chong Wei’s fourth

High speed and rushes ruled the second men’s singles match, as both Tommy Sugiarto and Kenichi Tago (pictured above) smashed at every opportunity, and it soon became a game of who could follow through with the smashes better.  Kenichi Tago was the first to set the pace, rushing for every shot that came back to him.  Tommy Sugiarto was able to step up to the pace and match shot for shot, keeping close reins on the score.

Following a challenge, due to a slight miscommunication, the referee came on court to reaffirm his decision on the challenge.  Tommy’s quick defense and attacks, combined with Tago’s miscalculations saw Tommy clutching the first game.

From the second game onwards, Tago had a better handle on his speed, being able to hit home his attacks.  Despite that, constant net mistakes saw Tommy catching up, and finally culminated in the third game, where an exhausted Tago committed mistakes one after the other, and cursed his inability at the net.

“I’m not very happy with my performance in the first match, when I lost to Sony,” said Sugiarto after his semi-final.  “As a player, I realize that I have to be fully recovered, so I did that and performed against Hu Yun and Kenichi Tago.

“I did not expect to meet Tago, because I also played against him yesterday and definitely that’s not a good feeling.  I actually expected that I would meet Jan O Jorgensen.

“The key to winning was actually in the second game, because Tago was playing to his limit, and I felt that his stamina had been squeezed and that he had no more stamina to play the third.  And we also played each other yesterday.

“Of course, playing in front of his home crowd will be a benefit for Lee Chong Wei [pictured], but I will always try to play my best and if I win, it would be the biggest achievement in my career, as I haven’t won any matches against him yet.

Indonesians with 2 chances for first title

Indonesia’s best chance for its first title at the is of course, in the men’s doubles.  Mohammad Ahsan (pictured) and Hendra Setiawan won their rematch from the World Championship final against Denmark’s Boe/Mogensen, who were three-time defending champions at this event.

“We were ready to face them and we’ve played them several times before.  We know their style of playing,” Ahsan said.  “The pressure that the Danish pair kept up right from the first game was quite good, and thank god that we were finally able to win

“We are so ready to meeting [Kim/Kim].  We will try our best though.”

Kim Ki Jung and Kim Sa Rang won their first match in 6 attempts against compatriots Ko Sung Hyun and Lee Yong Dae.  All but one of those has been at the semi-final or final stage.  This finals appearance should put the Koreans at a career-high world ranking by next week.

Mixed title still eludes Malaysians

Malaysia’s own pair of Chan Peng and Goh Liu Ying stepped on court with hopes of taking Chong Wei’s earlier win over Jan O. Jorgensen as momentum to capitalize on.  Mixed doubles is the only discipline in which Malaysia has never won a title in the Superseries Finals.

Chan and Goh got off to a good start with a 4-point lead.  However, their confidence was then shaken by the thunderous smashes of Zhang Nan.  Despite manoeuvring to push Zhao Yunlei (pictured) to the back-court, both of the Chinese players proved to be just as equally apt at gaining the offense and keeping it.

Frustration was written on the faces of the Malaysian pair, particularly on Goh’s, as she missed net shots and had trouble defending.  Even Chan’s massive court coverage wasn’t enough to redeem the pair, and Zhang smashed home the final point to put an end to Malaysia’s challenge in the mixed category.

Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen probably had suspicions when they gained their first game a tad too easily, as the Chinese pair could hardly put up a resistance to their offence.  It was reaffirmed when Xu Chen had to call the umpire to announce his retirement citing a lower back injury.

Finals line-up
WD: Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) [3] vs. Ma Jin / Tang Jinhua (CHN) [4]
WS: Li Xuerui (CHN) vs. Tai Tzu Ying (TPE)
MS: Lee Chong Wei (MAS) [1] vs. Tommy Sugiarto (INA) [4]
XD: Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) [1] vs. Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) [4]
MD: Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) [1] vs. Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang (KOR)

Click here for complete semi-final results

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