On home soil Michelle Li doesn’t seem to be affected by the building pressure on her shoulders. The Canadian shuttler is the only player left representing her country at the Canada Open. As first seeded she eliminated Korean Ko Eun Byul after an epic encounter.
By Elm Vandevorst. Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)
No Canadian has reached the final on home soil after the tournament became a Grand Prix event four years ago. All eyes were on the crowd’s favourite Michelle Li (pictured above), who reached the quarters at the All England earlier this year. So far Li hadn’t had an easy tournament, playing gained three-game matches in both the first round and the quarters.
Against Vietnam Open semi-finalist Ko Eun Byul, Li was again considered the most likely to win. Losing the first game 22-10, the Canadian knew she had to perform better. A close 21-19 victory in the second and a more convincing outcome in the decider means Li will now be up in the final. Her opponent Pai Yu Po got the better of Zhang Beiwen from the United States, also in three games. China-born Zhang is a former member of the Singaporean team who left the federation and now plays for team USA and has recently scored upsets over the likes of Carolina Marin and Bae Yeon Ju.
An all-European, all-Korean and all-Taiwan final: those are the thrilling matches planned in the doubles finals. Top seeds and 2013 runners-up Jorrit De Ruiter and Samantha Barning (pictured above) will face Max Schwenger and Carla Nelte in the mixed. Their latest battle dates from 2012 at the Bitburger Open, where the Dutch duo easily overcame their adversaries. They seem to be in great form so far as they haven’t lost a game so far.
Koreans Park So Young and Park Sun Young will find very the familiar faces of Choi Hye In and Lee So Hee on the other side of the net in the women’s doubles. All but Park Sun Young attended the same elementary, middle, and high schools before joining the Daekyo pro team, under the auspices of which the ladies are all in attendance in Vancouver. The match between Liang Jui Wei / Lu Chia Pin up and Liao Min Chun / Tseng Min Hao is a guarantee that Taiwan will head back home with at least one title.
Also powerhouse Korea has a shot at another win beside their certain victory in the women’s doubles. Dyed-in-the-wool veteran Lee Hyun Il runs into twenty year-old Ng Ka Long (pictured) from Hong Kong. Hyun Il wiped out Wong Wing Ki in his semi-final. Although the latter was the favourite on paper before the start of the match, his Korean opponent strengthened his record to 8-1.
If Ng Ka Long wins the Canadian final, he joins the ranks to an impressive list of players who won their first major title right after leaving their teens. These include Chen Jin (German Open 2006), Chen Long (Philippine Open 2009), Xue Song (India GPG 2014), and Viktor Axelsen (Swiss Open 2014).
WD: Park So Young / Park Sun Young (KOR) vs. Choi Hye In / Lee So Hee (KOR)
MD: Liang Jui Wei / Lu Chia Pin (TPE)  vs. Liao Min Chun / Tseng Min Hao (TPE) 
XD: Jorrit De Ruiter / Samantha Barning (NED)  vs. Max Schwenger / Carla Nelte (GER) 
MS: Ng Ka Long (HKG)  vs. Lee Hyun Il (KOR)
WS: Michelle Li (CAN)  vs. Pai Yu Po (TPE)