AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2016 SF – Gift-giving rituals

The Australian Open will be the first ever Superseries final for Jeon Hyeok Jin, but if he wants a title as an early 21st birthday gift, he’ll have to deny […]

The will be the first ever final for Jeon Hyeok Jin, but if he wants a title as an early 21st birthday gift, he’ll have to deny Hans-Kristian Vittinghus his own first. Both semi-final victors gave opponents a taste of their best shots one too many times.

By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Sydney.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Boy with the broad shoulders

Jeon Hyeok Jin (pictured) possesses a bit of everything and uses all of it.  Today, style-wise, he took one third of Chen Long’s patient disposition, one third of Ginting’s own fit court coverage and grounded them in solid basics.

A factor in Jeon’s favour is being the perfect build for men’s singles: able to extend and get a racquet on the majority of an opponent’s above-average angled drops or smashes, as well as reach to touch down drop shots without needing full footwork preparation.

Additionally, the muscular reflexes born of Korean training caught Anthony Ginting (pictured) off guard in minor exchanges but they all added up to making it hard to produce outright winners or forge open gap opportunities against Jeon – something Chen Long was attempting to do for himself yesterday.

Ginting’s loose net shots let him down in first game.  He could have equalised at deuce, having caught Jeon on the backfoot, but wanted to produce too tight a hairpin shot, which didn’t go over, thus handing over the first game 21-19 to the Korean.

When not hot, Anthony Ginting is good but not special.  The Indonesian equalised the match just in time once he got used to what the Korean was offering up rather than playing without regard for it.

With this knowledge, and adjusting accordingly, Ginting was primed to demonstrate his full range in the rubber game.  The arrival of the Indonesian’s sensational smashes and improved net play now required his opponent to adjust.

The Korean response was a resolute firm shoulder on rear side-to-side manoeuvring strokes, intended to reduce seeing smashes come back, so much so they sometimes caught Ginting mid-air from finishing his previous stroke.  It was high-percentage strapping Korean defence versus Indonesian daring to produce unbelievable winners all the way to 19-19.

Next, Jeon took a leaf out of Ginting’s book and gambled for a lead. The Korean’s full-blooded smashes which paid off as he closed out the decider 21-19.

“Ginting beat Chen Long yesterday and I think he was more nervous than me because he wanted to win badly,” said a beaming Jeon afterwards.  “I have lost in first rounds a lot before so I wasn’t really affected.”

First crown beckons to Vittinghus

The standard men’s singles probing of all corners of the court and testing the reliability of an adversary’s range of major shots by Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (pictured) was sufficient to overcome India’s Srikanth Kidambi (pictured below), 22-20, 21-13.

“I feel I took away Srikanth’s net opportunities today, which made a difference,” said Vittinghus.

The overall ploy revealed that Kidambi wasn’t producing any signature or deceptive shots.  When it comes to solid play, it is this Dane’s strong suit so he led pretty much all the way in both games.

The first game deuce, which resulted from a rare Danish unforced error today, could have been crucial and Vittinghus agreed: “I haven’t got rid of the nerves in tight situations but I’ve matured at dealing with them.”

The doctor’s attention close to the end of the match is nothing to worry about, claimed the Dane: “I’m used to bleeding a little on court.  Nothing to worry about.  Shows that I’ve fought for my result.”

Vittinghus is playing on a Superseries Sunday for the first time since Dubai in 2014, when he faced Chen Long and came up short.  Jeon, on the other hand, had never advanced past the first round in a Superseries event before this week and this is only his second time playing a Superseries abroad, though he already has a Grand Prix Gold title to his name.  The Korean turns 21 on Monday.

Finals line-up
WD:  Nitya Krishinda Maheswari / Greysia Polii (INA) [2] vs. Bao Yixin / Chen Qingchen (CHN)
MD:  Angga Pratama / Ricky Karanda Suwardi (INA) [6] vs. Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) [7]
MS:  Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (DEN) vs. Jeon Hyeok Jin (KOR)
XD:  Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) [8] vs. Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN)
WS:  Saina Nehwal (IND) [7] vs. Sun Yu (CHN)

Click here for complete semi-final results

Aaron Wong

About Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong only ever coveted badminton's coolest shot - a reverse backhand clear. He is renowned for two other things: 1) Writing tournament previews that adjust the focus between the panorama of the sport's progress, down to the microscopic level of explaining the striking characteristics of players; 2) Dozing off during men's doubles at the London Olympic Games. Contact him at: aaron @