FRENCH OPEN 2016 QF – The heirs

China proved they have a host of emerging players to count on, as their new doubles pairs displayed some incredible game to reach the semis in Paris, while Zhang Beiwen […]

China proved they have a host of emerging players to count on, as their new doubles pairs displayed some incredible game to reach the semis in Paris, while Zhang Beiwen finally reached her first ever semi-final by beating Denmark Open winner Akane Yamaguchi.

By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent live in Paris.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

China‘s heiresses

China might have found their new treasures, ready to take on the badminton world. First came Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan (pictured).  In the last weeks of their ‘reign’ as World Junior Champions, the 19-year-olds showed some incredible skills and will to overcome the recent Olympic silver medallists Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl from Denmark.

The Chinese youngsters had to hold on really tight while undergoing the extremely demanding play from the Danes.  Still the two women displayed a very promising game to enter the last four.

The Danish players are very tall, and they have way more experience than us, so we felt some discomfort, but from the second game we knew how to defend against them and we got better,” commented Chen Qingchen after her match, adding that it might not be the end: “It is our best result so far, as a pair.  This is why we cheered each other a lot, so we are definitely aiming at higher now and will try to grab the gold.

A few matches later, their compatriots Li Yinhui and Huang Dongping (pictured) also ousted one of the favourites for the crown, Indonesians Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari, in a marathon match. It indeed took them an hour to defeat the reigning Asian Games gold medallists, who pushed the young Chinese pair to release their best game.

Huang and Li will have a Korean hurdle to go through as Chang Yena and Lee So Hee will stand in their for a place in the final.  They lost to the world #7 Koreans in the first round last week in Denmark, but it was their victory over them last year in the Thailand Open final that gave the young Chinese pair their only title to date.

Taipei‘s renaissance

Probably jealous of his compatriot Chou Tien Chen’s success, Hsu Jen Hao (pictured) decided to add his name in the long list of well-performing Taiwan players.  He scored a splendid win over the in-form Son Wan Ho, preventing the Korean from inching one more step toward a third straight Superseries final.

However, things didn’t start that well for Hsu as he was completely outmanoeuvred by the Korean, who immediately snatched the first game 21-6. Still, his pride well hurt, the Chinese Taipei player took all the opportunities to make a winning comeback.

I was really nervous in the first game, but luckily I could play much more smoothly afterwards.  Son has been playing really well lately, and it’s not an easy task to beat him,” confessed a delighted Hsu Jen Hao.

Hsu will now be asked to take on Shi Yuqi (pictured right), the Chinese youngster who broke all the hopes of Indonesia’s heartthrob Jonatan Christie.  One of these first-time Superseries semi-finalists will do one better and record his first ever finals appearance and in the other semi-final, Ng Ka Long will attempt to oust the only player in the final four who has a Superseries title to his name, Korean veteran Lee Hyun Il.

The key to motivation

Zhang Beiwen (pictured below) is the living proof that motivation is the key to any successful career, even without a coach or any stable training place.  The American player, who had to navigate through different countries to pursue her dream, showed to the entire world she was the one creating her own fate, despite having no one to train with her.

Zhang outplayed Akane Yamaguchi, the recent Denmark and Korea Superseries winner, in a superb three-game match, where both pushed their physical limits to finish first.

I played her twice and lost against her.  Today I simply had no expectations.  I just watched her videos and just tried to stay patient!” said Zhang Beiwen after her match.

The 53-minute-long match definitely had consequences over Zhang’s body: “I was so tired! I’m pretty sure I got blisters! Since I haven’t trained enough recently, I get them pretty easily,” added the twenty-six year-old player.

Zhang Beiwen appeared in her first Grand Prix final nearly eight years ago but Saturday will mark her first Superseries semi-final outing.  She will now meet the seventh seed Sun Yu, to hope for a first ever final in a Superseries and keep the fairy tale going.

Click here for complete quarter-final results

About Tarek Hafi