Korea once again found doubles success, two incredible matches sending both men’s pairs to the semis after a shock upset by Shin and Eom in mixed. Meanwhile, Tine Baun was also forced to say a last goodbye to the French crowd, beaten by young Japanese player Minatsu Mitani.
By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent live in Paris. Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live)
Shin Baek Cheol and Eom Hye Won (pictured left) struck again on Friday, preventing another Chinese pair from advancing in the draw. This time the newly-formed Korean pair took down none other than the current World and Olympic champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei in straight games.
The Korean pair displayed the perfect tactics and fantastic defence against the Olympic gold medallists, against whom Shin had scored the victory that put him on the international mixed doubles map, in the Asian Games final two years ago. However, the Koreans will still need to go through another Chinese pair, their third in a row, to reach the final, as Qiu Zihan and Bao Yixin also made it to the semi-final.
On the Korean side, the recent Japan Open Superseries champions Kim Ki Jung and Kim Sa Rang also joined their compatriots to the semi-final after an epic battle against China’s Zhang Nan and Chai Biao.
“Our condition is really good now,” said Kim Ki Jung after the match. “We have been working really hard and it is always a pleasure to go far in a tournament. The Chinese played really well today so we are really happy to have made it to the semis.”
The rising stars were joined a few minutes later by Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun, who played the match of the tournament against Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, who had nipped the new pair’s Denmark Open hopes in the first round last week.
After an hour and twenty minutes of the whole crowd seeming to hold its breath for every rally the four gentlemen played in the Pierre de Coubertin Arena, the Koreans came out on top with a 25-23, 16-21, 23-21 victory.
China may have lost Chai/Zhang, the pair that re-united last month just in time to win the China Masters, but they still have a shot in men’s doubles as Hong Wei and Shen Ye (pictured above) fought their own close battle in the quarter-finals. They blew two match point opportunities in their second game against Hoon/Tan of Malaysia but made up for it by sealing the deal in the deciding game and they now face India Open champions Bodin Issara / Maneepong Jongjit for a spot in the final against Korea.
Denmark’s Tine Baun, following her famous colleague Peter Gade, also said goodbye to the French crowd, beaten by the very up-and-coming Minatsu Mitani (pictured left) from Japan.
The tall Danish player couldn’t seem to find any solution to outplay her opponent, who was very fit on court and fought hard to get every shuttle back to the other side. The Dane, who already announced that she would retire after the 2013 All England, leaves the Parisian tournament harshly beaten 7-21, 18-21.
Peter Gade and Tine Baun (pictured right) may have lost but there are at least male heirs ready to take the Danish throne. After Jan Jorgensen took the baton directly from Gade in their quarter-final, the tall and talented Viktor Axelsen made sure Danish will be represented in both semi-finals as he got the best of his World Junior Champion predecessor Wang Zhengming after a three-game battle.
“You know it feels really good to beat a player you’ve lost twice against,” said Axelsen afterward. “Today I was really eager to win and I guess this is what made the difference, though he managed to come back strong in the second set.”
The Dane will now have to meet Kenichi Tago, former finalist here in Paris.
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