CHINESE TAIPEI OPEN SF – 2 chances at home for Wang Chi-Lin

Wang Chi-Lin is up for the first doubles double of 2017 as he prevailed in both of his semi-finals at the Chinese Taipei Open on Saturday. By Don Hearn.  Photos: […]

Wang Chi-Lin is up for the first doubles double of 2017 as he prevailed in both of his semi-finals at the on Saturday.

By Don Hearn.  : Badmintonphoto (archives)

Chinese Taipei’s Wang Chi-Lin (pictured above, with Lee Chia Hsin) would not be content merely reaching his second straight Chinese Taipei men’s doubles final.  A little over two months after taking the first Gold title of his career, Wang is up for a doubles double, something no one has yet done in a major badminton tournament in 2017.

To gain entry to two finals, Wang had to deny Korean ace Chae Yoo Jung in the mixed doubles final four.  It was the first time that he or his partner had faced the two-time Asian Junior Champions in an individual tournament.  Wang had been beaten twice by Chae and Choi Sol Gyu in mixed team competitions as a junior.

The most recent of those two meetings was with his current partner Lee Chia Hsin but Wang and Lee’s most recent memory is of denying the Koreans at last month’s Sudirman Cup.  Choi/Chae may have gone on to be Korea’s heroes in the Sudirman final but against Wang and Lee, they had just run out of answers and this allowed Chinese Taipei to finish on top of their group.

For Lee Chia Hsin, who turned 20 last month, this will be a career first Grand Prix Gold final.  But the final is an even more momentous occasion for one of their opponents. 19-year-old Seo Seung Jae (pictured above) of Korea has only ever been in one quarter-final of a major event and that was as a singles player.  In fact, he tried out for the team in December in singles and that was all he had played in his only international outing this year prior to his heroics at the Sudirman Cup.

Paired with former world #1 Kim Ha Na, Seo provided devastating steep attacks that their Thai opponents Tinn Isriyanate / Pacharapun Chochuwong had no idea how to handle.  Kim, who won this event in 2015 with Ko Sung Hyun, will attempt to again take control of the net in Sunday’s final.

Kim will be able to concentrate on the mixed final, though, after she and Kong Hee Yong provided little challenge to Asian Championship runners-up Kim/Yoo.  Chae Yoo Jung, on the other hand, was clearly in the hunt for two titles this weekend.  She and Kim So Yeong (pictured left) dominated their second game against Matsumoto/Nagahara of Japan so she has one title to shoot for, even after a final in her specialty eluded her.

One teen title assured

Even if he has a successful Sunday, Seo Seung Jae will not be the only teenager to claim a title in Taipei this weekend.  Malaysia’s 17-year-old Goh Jin Wei (pictured right) made late surges in each of her games against Haruko Suzuki of Japan.  The 2015 World Junior Champion has been close to the top of a Grand Prix Gold podium already, last year in Indonesia but she’ll be looking to do one better here in Taipei.

Goh’s opponent is also still in her teens but Saena Kawakami tasted victory twice in 2015, one of those coming in a Grand Prix Gold event.  In the past 12 months, she has been in three finals but after beating compatriot Natsumi Shimoda in straight games, she seems ready to get back to the top of a podium.

Kawakami actually beat Goh on her last visit to Taipei, too.  That was at the opposite end of the tournament, as they played in the opening round of the Chinese Taipei Masters and Kawakami ended up as the only one of the two to make the final that week.  The women’s singles is also the only title not destined for players from Korea or Chinese Taipei.

At least two for the home team

Both the men’s singles and doubles have finished on seed and with a lock on the title for the Taiwan team.  Defending champion Chou Tien Chen had trouble in his first game with Malaysian teen Lee Zii Jia but pulled himself together to take the next two games handily.

As with the German Open, Wang Tzu Wei (pictured left) will be Chou’s challenger for this title.  Unlike in Germany, Chou will not be coming off a victory over Chen Long.  On the other hand, since beating Chen this past winter, Wang has added Lin Dan to his list of career upsets.

Wang beat last year’s Australian Open runner-up Jeon Hyeok Jin.  Jeon dropped one game before taking a good lead late in the second but a good finishing push delivered the win to Wang Tzu Wei.

These two players have a rivalry that goes back to their junior days five years ago but this was only their second match on the senior stage.  Jeon may be returning to Taipei later this summer.  He did not qualify for the Worlds and he may be intending to attempt a title defense at the World University Games, where Wang – whose spot in the worlds was declined – will also likely be among the top contenders.

The men’s doubles finished on seed but not without incident.  Wang Chi-Lin and Chen Hung Ling (pictured bottom) let their concentration lapse at the end of their second game, allowing Malaysia’s Chooi Kah Ming / Low Juan Shen to force a third game before the local favourites finally took it in three.

Lu Ching Yao / Yang Po Han (pictured right) are the only one of Taiwan’s top three pairs who are still without a Grand Prix Gold title but last week, they became they first of the three to appear in a Superseries semi-final.  They tried to carry that momentum through to a third Grand Prix Gold final of the year but despite saving no fewer than 6 match points, they succumbed on the 7th and Lee/Lee won 28-26 to earn passage to Sunday’s final.

Finals line-up
XD:  Wang Chi-Lin / Lee Chia Hsin (TPE) [3] vs. Seo Seung Jae / Kim Ha Na (KOR)
WD:  Kim Hye Rin / Yoo Hae Won (KOR) vs. Chae Yoo Jung / Kim So Yeong (KOR)
WS:  Goh Jin Wei (MAS) [3] vs. Saena Kawakami (JPN)
MD:  Lee Jhe-Huei / Lee Yang (TPE) [1] vs. Chen Hung Ling / Wang Chi-Lin (TPE) [2]
MS:  Chou Tien Chen (TPE) [1] vs. Wang Tzu Wei (TPE) [2]

Click here for complete semi-final results

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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 @ badzine.net