After five defeats spanning two years, Juliane Schenk finally prevailed over now-Olympic champion Li Xuerui in the Yonex Denmark Open quarter-finals. Meanwhile Tine Baun bid farewell and Boe/Mogensen scraped through to the semis.
By Don Hearn. Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live)
In a way, Juliane Schenk (pictured) had a head start on the rest of the badminton players in the top echelon of women’s singles. Long before China’s Li Xuerui became the dominant force that culminated with her Olympic gold medal performance in London, Schenk had already begun her own personal losing streak.
In fact, it was at the Denmark Open two years ago, when Li was still considered beatable, that Schenk suffered her first of five straight losses to the then 19-year-old. Schenk finally ended the streak on Friday in Odense, beating the second-seeded Li in straight games to reach the semi-finals.
To the dismay of the home crowd, however, Schenk will not be joined in the semi-finals by Denmark’s Tine Baun (pictured). Baun, who announced this week that she would retire after the All England next spring (see here), left her last home Superseries tournament after a one-sided loss to India’s Saina Nehwal.
Saina has thus, in her first post-Olympic outing, set up a repeat of her Olympic semi-final against Wang Yihan, who dominated her third game against Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun. Schenk, who is now the first non-Chinese player to have recorded wins over all the top Chinese stars, faces Jiang Yanjiao in the other semi-final.
Men’s singles may have passed without incident but in men’s doubles, the action continues to sizzle. Olympic silver medallists Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen really struggled against in-form Koreans Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang (pictured).
The Japan Open champions pushed the top-seeded Danes to extra points in both games by using their speed and creative directing of the shuttle. However, in the end, they were fooled one too many times but the Danes’ flick serves and sent one too many short lifts over to be punished by their tall opponents’ steep attacks.
“They are a new young pair, who have improved a lot the last couple of months, and I think we will have many close matches with them in the years to come,” Boe and Mogensen posted on their Facebook page after the match. “Our level really improved for the match today, so we are very happy now.”
Boe and Mogensen now face Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, who denied the home favourites the title in the 2009 final. The Malaysians continued to refuse to succumb to Thailand’s Issara/Jongjit, who have managed to sneak up on so many other veteran pairs in the past year.
The other men’s doubles semi-final will be between the only two remaining new pairings of this post-Olympic phase. Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia and Shin Baek Cheol / Yoo Yeon Seong of Korea each disposed of a seeded Japanese pair. The Indonesians, had the harder job, having to save three match points before prevailing 21-18, 24-22 over Endo/Hayakawa.
Japan’s only bright spot on the day was the victory of Indonesia Grand Prix Gold winners Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (pictured). They beat Indonesia’s Anneke Feinya Agustin / Nitya Krishinda Maheswari in the only quarter-final that ran to a full hour. They will now attempt to hold their own amidst three Chinese pairs in the semi-finals.
Mixed doubles is seeing a logical conclusion. After the early exit of the injury-plagued Danish third seeds, the semi-finals is now composed of the rest of the top five seeds, all of whom won their quarter-finals convincingly in straight games.
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