DENMARK OPEN 2014 SF – Chen and Wang set to defend titles

Men’s singles World Champion Chen Long beat Indian hopeful Kashyap Parupalli in the semi-finals of Denmark Open Superseries Premier 2014, bringing him one step away from basking in a second […]

Men’s singles World Champion Chen Long beat Indian hopeful Kashyap Parupalli in the semi-finals of Premier 2014, bringing him one step away from basking in a second victory in Denmark, after winning his world title in Copenhagen in August.

By Serla Rusli, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live)

Chen Long (pictured) may feel Danish fortune smiling on him.  Not two months after his first World Championship title, he is back in a final in Denmark.  Luck would have it that he has even been spared the necessity of facing team-mate Lin Dan – one of only two active players Chen has never beaten in international play – and of facing Lee Chong Wei and Kenichi Tago, the only other players who can beat Chen consistently.

However, there is one more hurdle, in the form of seventh seed Son Wan Ho and the final on Sunday may prove to be a tricky feat for Chen as he is facing one of his most formidable opponents.  Son clinched his ticket to his first Superseries final in over two years by beating Chen’s compatriot Tian Houwei in a convincing 21-17, 21-9.

While Chen Long does have an impressive head-to-head record of 5-2 against Son, he would not be quick to forget his two recent encounters against the world no 7 Korean.  Son posed significant trouble to Chen in the Quarterfinals of World Championships in August, stretching the match to three thrilling games.  And just last month, the Korean finally managed to thwart Chen for the second time in a sweet home ground victory at the Asian Games in Incheon.

Chen Long’s girlfriend Wang Shixian did not have the same luck in her semi-final.  Her journey was stopped by fellow Chinese Wang Yihan in a 40-minute match, 21-19, 21-14.  Wang Yihan, just like Chen Long, is set to defend her Denmark Open title this year, and will face compatriot and world #1 Li Xuerui (pictured), in yet another episode in this rivalry, the most recent of which was this year’s Asian Games final, with Li will surely be looking to avenge her defeat to Wang last month.

In men’s doubles, it was not third-time lucky for Danish duo Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (pictured below).  Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong maintain a clean slate against the Danes by beating them for the third time in their home ground, 21-14, 21-17.  The Koreans attacked confidently, possibly powered by an extra boost of confidence after reigning over Boe / Mogensen in their gripping World Championship semi-final in Copenhagen.

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Waiting for them on the other side of the court are Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan, who became the only unseeded players who managed to break through to the finals.  They continued to beat the odds – after their stellar performance over the past few days including upsetting former World Champs Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan in the quarter-finals, Fu/Zhang ousted current World Champions Ko Sung Hyun / Shin Baek Choel in 21-15, 23-21.

Mixed doubles will see the fifteenth clash between Tontowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir from Indonesia and Xu Chen / Ma Jin from China.  Both pairs defeated compatriots in the semi-finals today.  Ahmad/Natsir breezed over Riky Widianto / Puspita Richi Dili, while it was almost too easy for Xu/Ma against Liu Cheng / Bao Yixin.  The Chinese pair will be eager to erase the memory of their fruitless semi-final effort against the Indonesians in Incheon a few weeks ago.

Ma Jin’s hopes of getting a shot at winning two titles in Odense were dashed when she and Tang Yuanting had to bow to Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang in the only three-game match of the day.  Ma/Tang pulled off an impressive comeback in the second game after trailing 12-16 to eventually win it with 21-19, but it was not good enough as they had to surrender 11-21 in the deciding game to the former world #1 Wang/Yu.

The eighth-seeded Chinese will face third seeds Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi.  They played in what turned out to be the longest match of the day against fellow Japanese Reika Kakiiwa / Miyuki Maeda (pictured).  Matsutomo / Takahashi eventually emerged victorious 21-18, 21-12 after the persistent fight by Kakiiwa/Maeda.  Both Japanese pairs are among the few who have mathematically clinched their berths in the Destination Dubai Superseries Finals in December.

Finals line-up
WD: Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi  (JPN) [3] vs.  Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang  (CHN) [8]
XD: Xu Chen / Ma Jin  (CHN) [3] vs.  Tontowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir  (INA) [4]
WS: Li Xuerui  (CHN) [1] vs.  Wang Yihan  (CHN) [3]
MS: Chen Long  (CHN) [2] vs.  Son Wan Ho  (KOR) [7]
MD: Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) [1] vs.  Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan (CHN)

Click here for complete semi-final results

About Serla Rusli