BITBURGER OPEN 2015 SF – 3 Upsets, 1 title for Hong Kong

Hong Kong shuttlers pulled off 3 upsets on semi-final day at the Bitburger Open, leaving Wong Wing Ki and Ng Ka Long to fight for their first ever major title. […]

Hong Kong shuttlers pulled off 3 upsets on semi-final day at the , leaving Wong Wing Ki and Ng Ka Long to fight for their first ever major title.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Sven Heise for Badmintonphoto (live)

The Bitburger Open comes sandwiched in between the last two sets of Superseries events but it will have a very interesting impact on the current Race to Rio standings.  Perhaps no changes will be more crucial than for the two men’s singles finalists, Ng Ka Long (pictured) and Wong Wing Ki.  The two young shuttlers will finish the week inside the top 16 – counting post-April events only – and each should almost draw level with their two veteran compatriots Hu Yun and Wei Nan.

Even if it doesn’t end up sending them to Rio, the result is still significant in its own right.  For 21-year-old Ng Ka Long, he has already achieved his first career Gold final.  Ng won a hard-fought match against England’s Rajiv Ouseph to reach the final.  That allowed him to follow up his biggest upset of the week, beating two-time defending champion Chou Tien Chen in the quarter-finals.

Ng Ka Long blossomed quickly as a singles player, reaching his first international final just a few months after becoming World Junior Champion in boys’ doubles three years ago.  His big results in the past two years have been his consecutive runner-up finishes at the Canada Open Grand Prix, where he was denied the title by a former world #1 each time.

Ng’s compatriot Wong Wing Ki is now in his third career Grand Prix Gold final.  He reached the second step on the podium at the U.S. Open in 2013 and had another shot in Macau a year ago.  This week, he had a scare from 20-year-old Wang Tzu Wei in the quarter-finals but survived and took out Marc Zwiebler (pictured) in the semis, ensuring there would be no title for Germany again this year.

Former world #9 Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet are on their best roll since they renewed their partnership last spring.  They beat two of the world’s newest top ten players, Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei of Malaysia, to reach the Bitburger final.

However, the Hong Kong pair will have their work cut out for them on Sunday as they are facing 2014 India Open champions Tang Yuanting and Yu Yang (pictured).  The undefeated Chinese pair is giving the world a sneak preview before they are launched on the Superseries circuit in China in just over a week.  Tang and Yu followed up victories over the Pan Am Games, then the European Games gold medallists by beating Vietnam Open champions Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai.  Their longest match of the week has been their second round win over World Championship semi-finalists Naoko Fukuman / Kurumi Yonao.

If the Chinese are just starting to put points on the board that they can use to buy their tickets to the Rio Olympics, in the other doubles disciplines, the top pairs are starting to jostle for position.  In the men’s doubles, two Japanese pairs lost in the semi-finals.  Both Kamura/Sonoda and Hashimoto/Hirata need to be in the top 8 in early May to allow Japan to send a second pair to the 2016 Games but they were unable to make the Bitburger Open contribute as they might have liked.

French Open runners-up Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding did get the result that should make them the first Danish pair to break into the top 8 in the Race to Rio standings.  They will take on Ivanov/Sozonov for the 6th instalment in a rivalry that has gone the Danes’ way ever since the Russians beat them in the 2014 European Championship final

Chris and Gabrielle Adcock could find themselves in the top 3 of the Race to Rio standings if they can take their first Bitburger Open title.  However, Poland’s Robert Mateusiak / Nadiezda Zieba (pictured bottom) are looking to launch themselves into the realm of the qualifiers by recapturing the title they last won back in 2006.

The biggest upsets of the week in women’s singles have involved Japan and Thailand.  The latest was in the semi-final, where Akane Yamaguchi dominated former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon in two quick games.

It was a much bigger surprise, however, when Japan Open winner Nozomi Okuhara went down to Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan (pictured right).  It will be another Japan-Thailand showdown in the final, between those two upset perpetrators, with Busanan looking for her first title since she won the Dutch Open two years ago.

Finals line-up
WD: Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) vs. Tang Yuanting / Yu Yang (CHN)
MS: Wong Wing Ki (HKG) [12] vs. Ng Ka Long (HKG) [13]
XD: Chris Adcock / Gabrielle Adcock (ENG) [1] vs. Robert Mateusiak / Nadiezda Zieba (POL)
WS: Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) [4] vs. Busanan Ongbamrungphan (THA) [7]
MD: Mads Conrad-Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding (DEN) [1] vs. Vladimir Ivanov / Ivan Sozonov (RUS) [2]

Click here for complete semi-final results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @