KOREA OPEN 2017 QF – Wang denies Vittinghus repeat miracle

Wang Tzu Wei scored in spurt after spurt to deny Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus a repeat of his Thursday heroics at the Korea Open. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in […]

Wang Tzu Wei scored in spurt after spurt to deny Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus a repeat of his Thursday heroics at the .

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul.  Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto (live)

The last two men’s singles quarter-finals at the 2017 Korea Open both involved champions not from the Worlds.  SEA Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie fought his way through three games to reach his second career Supeseries semi-final while Universiade gold medallist Wang Tzu Wei got the better of Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus to reach his own first final four.

Vittinghus, of course, was coming off a second round match where he scored 8 straight points, saving 6 match points and earning then winning his own.  In the quarter-final, though, it was Wang who very nearly executed such a run to ruin the Dane’s hopes of getting the second game.  He was finally stopped after narrowing the score from 14-20 to 19-20 and the match did indeed go to a decider.

In the third, it was close by the interval but Wang quickly opened it up to 19-10 and although Vittinghus gave chance once again, he was not able to move past 14 and the 22-year-old Wang Tzu Wei emerged the clear winner.

After his match Vittinghus said of his need for another 8-point miracle run: “Well I was hoping for it, of course, but I didn’t think too much about it, I was just trying to find any kind of rhythm but it’s almost impossible on that court.

“I also played on that court on the first day.  The draught is unbelievable.  There is so much difference between the two sides so it’s extremely difficult to find any kind of rhythm and rhythm is exactly what I want against a player like Wang Tzu Wei.

“He is really good at making the rallies short.  It makes it more of a dogfight and I don’t want that against him so I was struggling to stay calm and I wanted to get that kind of game but it’s extremely difficult on that court.

“The two outside courts are a lot worse than the inside courts and it’s due to the air conditioning.  You can see the vents in the corners and you play with the wind on opposite sits in the two outside courts.”

Asked about what makes Wang such a dangerous opponent, Vittinghus said, “Wang Tzu Wei is extremely aggressive and he’s very good at the net.  His attack is quite good and this is also why I want a match where I can move him to all four corners and move him around a lot.  I struggled to do that on the one side.  I think I solved it pretty well in the third game but then I got a very bad start after the break.

“He has confidence that on his attack he will score points and I just couldn’t close the gap like yesterday.”

“His ranking doesn’t lie.  He’s 12th in the world and he deserves to be.  He is a very difficult player to beat because he can always score points on you so if you don’t feel very confident on court then he’s going to be very difficult to beat.”

The Dane was upbeat about his own overall condition, though, saying, “I had an unbelievably good training period leading up to the World Championships.  I think I also played well in Glasgow even though I lost in the first round.  It was a brilliant match so I’m hoping to carry on some of the form I gained in those 7 weeks of training.

“So I feel extremely good.  Of course I’m a little disappointed about today but I’m already looking forward to playing again next week.  I have a lot of confidence that the rest of the year will be much better than the first part was.”

Vittinghus had a perspective on his second-round comeback that contrasted with the spectacle presented on court: “To be honest, it doesn’t really make a difference how I won yesterday.  I don’t think I played particularly well.  I think I played really well for half a game in the second game and then for 8 rallies and those were the last 8 rallies.  But I also had some luck.  He had an easy net kill that he missed on one of the match points.

“I’m happy that I won and it’s not so often that I win when I don’t play well so that gives me a lot of confidence but making the comeback is just as much a matter of luck as of skill.”

Birthday win puts two 20-year-old Indonesians in semis

Jonatan Christie gave himself a special gift for his 20th birthday.  He held on to edge out a threatening Kazumasa Sakai 21-19 in their deciding game and book a spot in the Korea Open semis.  He did happen to squander a 12-4 lead early in that third game but the result is the same and he still survives to play the weekend.

Christie will take on Wang Tzu Wei in one semi-final while his compatriot Anthony Ginting must face the world #1 Son Wan Ho.

Indonesia also has semi-finalists in the men’s and mixed doubles.  Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto won their match handily but Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (pictured bottom) were predictably troubled by newly-crowned World Champions Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan.

After taking the first game, Gideon and Sukamuljo allowed the Chinese pair to reach game point ahead of them in the second, then blew 5 match point opportunities before taking the 6th to win 28-26.

That win means that the only World Champion left in the semi-final round of the first Superseries following the Worlds is Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara (pictured right).  She is to meet her compatriot Akane Yamaguchi on Saturday.

Click here for complete quarter-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 @ badzine.net