SINGAPORE OPEN SF – Gao stands tall in Singapore

Gao Fangjie got her sweet revenge against Nitchaon Jindapol, reviving China’s dream of finally winning a Super 500 women’s singles title this year. Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei is assured of a […]

Gao Fangjie got her sweet revenge against Nitchaon Jindapol, reviving China’s dream of finally winning a women’s singles title this year. Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei is assured of a men’s singles title in Singapore.

Story:  S Rusli, Badzine correspondent live from Singapore Indoor Stadium
Photos:  Mikael Ropars / Badmintonphoto (live)

Gao’s redemption

On semi-finals day at the 2018 , Korea Masters winner Gao Fangjie (pictured) got the revenge she had been looking after emerging victorious from a gruelling match against Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol. It ended 21-15, 12-21, 21-14.

“My playing state hasn’t been very good recently, so I want to gradually reach my best state, tackling one match at a time,” said Gao.

The 19-year-old Chinese shuttler managed to turn around the results from her last encounter against Nitchaon Jindapol (pictured) at the Uber Cup semi-finals in Thailand, a defeat that clearly still left her emotional.

As the second singles in that event, she failed to win a point for China when she lost against the Thai shuttler, also in three games. China eventually surrendered the spot in the final to the host country, who claimed that achievement for the first time ever, while China recorded their worst result in the Uber Cup in 34 years.

“It was a very painful lesson,” said Gao. “I learned the importance of having a strong mental state, and I learned a lot from that match as it was a really big tournament.”

Gao will face Japanese shuttler Sayaka Takahashi in the finals. Takahashi beat Chinese shuttler Han Yue, 21-18, 21-14.  

All Chinese-Taipei men’s singles final

Chinese Taipei shuttlers Chou Tien-chen and Hsu Jen-hao assured their country a medal from Singapore. Both advanced to the finals after hard-fought battles against their opponents in the semi-finals.

Hsu Jen-hao (pictured below) beat Vietnamese veteran Nguyen Tien Minh, 21-15, 21-11.  The two-game match lasted for 79 minutes. He dashed Nguyen’s hope of his first finals spot in a $200,000+ tournament after winning his first match against the swift 35-year-old for the first time in their five encounters.  Neither Nguyen nor Hsu ever reached a final in the 11 years of the , although they reached their first such semi-final in 2009 and 2012 respectively.

“I think that my strategy today is to not use speed in the match, as his rhythm and reflexes are better than mine,” said Hsu. “I continued to rally with him slowly, returning every shuttle he hits, to see who has better stamina and who is more patient. I feel that my strategy today was successful. Towards the end, his stamina depleted, and he made a lot of mistakes.”

In the other semi-final, top seed Chou Tien-chen ousted Chinese shuttler Qiao Bin (pictured bottom), 21-12, 18-21, 21-16.  Chou, ranked 7th in the world, outclassed Qiao in his speed and power play. After a relatively quick first game, Qiao managed to pull a comeback which stretched the match to a decider.

“His service was very slow so I needed to focus my mind, have patience and focus on every shot served. I needed to last and I thought ‘I need to win!’ so I played even better,” said Chou Tien-chen (pictured).

His will to win made all the difference, and he clinched his spot in the finals after 66 minutes.

“It has been a while since Chinese Taipei is represented in the finals,” said Chou.  “It will be fun.”

In fact, there were two all-Chinese Taipei men’s singles finals in the Grand Prix Gold circuit last year but Chou’s 2014 French Open title was the last by any on his team at this level of tournament.  Hsu’s first ever final in a major tournament was also an all-Chinese Taipei affair, at the 2014 New Zealand Open Grand Prix.

Finals line up
XD:  Tontowi Ahmad/Lilyana Natsir (INA) [1] vs. Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai (MAS) [2]
MS:  Chou Tien-chen (TPE) [1] vs. Hsu Jen-hao (TPE)
WS:  Sayaka Takahashi (JPN) [5] vs. Gao Fangjie (CHN) [7]
WD:  Ayako Sakuramoto/Yukiko Takahata (JPN) [5] vs. Nami Matsuyama/Chiharu Shida (JPN)
MD:  Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (INA) [5] vs. Ou Xuanyi/Xiangyu Ren (CHN)

Click here for complete semi-final results

 

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About Seria Rusli