ALL ENGLAND 2014 QF – Chen Long passes Danish test

Chen Long came through a tough battle with an in-form Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, a struggle not suffered by Chinese counterparts Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan in the women’s singles. Ahmad/Natsir and […]

Chen Long came through a tough battle with an in-form Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, a struggle not suffered by Chinese counterparts Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan in the women’s singles. Ahmad/Natsir and Zhang Zhao were also untroubled on their prospective paths to meet in the final of the mixed doubles.

By Michael Burke, Badzine Correspondent, live from Birmingham.  Photos: Raphael Sachetat & Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live).

The men’s singles match-up between defending champion Chen Long (pictured left) and Hans-Kristian Vittinghus provided the best entertainment of the earlier quarter-final matches. The Dane, fresh from a rich vein of form that saw him reach the final of the German Open, started strongly.  He took the first game from the Chinese player with a disciplined performance.

With a slow start to the second, Vittinghus was unable to catch up with his opponent, but he fought hard against the consistent and powerful Chen.  A similar trend followed in the third as the Chinese player dictated terms more effectively. Still, Hans-Kristian even had some push-ups to show he was still fit at the end of the match in a moment to amuse the crowd.

Vittinghus analysed his defeat clinically: “I think I lost my discipline a little bit, I got a bit tired and he found good rhythm. I tried to play at the front court when I was supposed to make him play the baseline, and he is very good at putting pressure on his opponent there.”

Of his recent good form, “I am playing the best badminton of my life. I had two good results, one final last week and a quarter-final this week. I am working hard to qualify for the World Championships in August.  This has been my main goal for the year.”

Chen Long spoke of Hans-Kristian after the match, “I was worried, especially during the first game. Playing in Europe against a great Danish player, we were both playing really well.

“The match was really hard fought, very tough, so having won, I feel a lot more relaxed going into the rest of the tournament. I just have to prepare right as the matches are one a day.”

He remained philosophical about his chances of defending the title however, “I’m quite familiar with this arena. I’ve played three matches here this year; will play a fourth tomorrow and hopefully a fifth on Sunday. I just want to do my best regardless.”

The defending champions in the mixed doubles, Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir (pictured right), also reflected this modesty as they were taken to three by their Singaporean opponents.

“Even though we’re defending champions, we don’t want to take anything for granted, as it puts a lot of pressure on us,” said Natsir afterward.

“We won the first game really easy, so we were unprepared for how they played in the second. We were much more focussed in the third which is why it was a much better performance.”

If they make it through to Sunday, they may face their opponents from last year’s final, as Olympic Champions Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (pictured left), so often a thorn in the side of Chris and Gabby Adcock (pictured right) progressed easily in a simple match against the last remaining home hopes.

Speaking after, Chris expressed his disappointment with the English pair’s performance: “I don’t think they played anything special, we just played below par. We didn’t get any rhythm and could only play well in patches.

“In the first game we just made errors, so many mistakes, I was just impatient really.”

As to what they could take away from the match, Gabby said, “We’ve only ever beaten them in a fast hall and this is definitely slow.  We need to change what we are doing against them in these conditions.”

2009 champion Wang Shixian (pictured left) outplayed India’s last representative Saina Nehwal and was delighted to progress.

“Confidence is a big thing, as you need to take it into every match,” said Wang.  “Of course this gives me confidence, the playing time was not as short as you might expect, and the scoreline was tighter during the games than the final score looks.

“The means a lot to many players.  I hope to win another title, but for me every match is important.”

Compatriot Wang Yihan will join her, after she beat Korean Bae Yeon Ju in straight games.

The full results for the day can be found here.

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About Michael Burke