Malaysia’s Liew Daren prevented an all-Danish men’s singles final of the 2012 Yonex French Open Superseries, sending out Jan O Jorgensen in three games to get the hard task of beating the in-form Viktor Axelsen. Saina Nehwal is up for a second straight title in a row, against Minatsu Mitani the only younger winner of a domestic semi-final.
By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent live in Paris. Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live)
Liew Daren (pictured) of Malaysia trashed Jan O Jorgensen’s dream of grabbing the French Open Superseries title, after he defeated his legendary compatriot yesterday. However, the Dane played a wonderful first game, changing the rhythm, and handling his opponent well enough to gain a one-game lead after a wonderful kill at the net to finish it 21-18.
Still, the Malaysian has improved mentally and physically and wished to show it.
“I have trained really hard recently, and I’m really pleased with the way I am playing right now,” added the twenty-five year-old Malaysian player.
Liew Daren used a more patient strategy in the second game, waiting for the mistakes until he earned a first game point, where he tried to add pace to the rallies. He was quickly stopped by Jorgensen but the Dane eventually capitulated 17-21.
In the decider, Liew Daren quickly got the best position, launching several attacks to create the gap between himself and his opponent, and making the most of the golden opportunity to revel in his first appearance in a Superseries final.
“It’s my fifth tournament in a row, I am really tired, and I really don’t know how I’ve done so far to reach the final, but it’s such a great moment,” said Liew after winning his semi-final.
The Malaysian will be playing another Dane tomorrow in the name of Viktor Axelsen (pictured), who easily defeated Kenichi Tago.
“I saw him playing a bit. He’s been playing really well recently. I know it won’t be easy tomorrow but I will definitely do my best,” said Liew.
No mixing in mixed
The first final to be announced was the mixed doubles one, where the French crowd will be granted with an all-Chinese affair tomorrow afternoon in the Stade Pierre de Coubertin.
The current World Championship silver medallists were not in position to beat the current Olympic silver medallists despite the crowd cheering every rally won by Britain’s Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier. Xu Chen and Ma Jin (pictured) finished it in two games 21-14, 21-19.
On the court two, Shin Baek Cheol and Eom Hye Won were also prevented from continuing their fantastic run so far. After beating two Chinese pairs in a row, including the current World and Olympic champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, they found the third Chinese pair, Qiu Zihan and Bao Yixin, unwilling to let the Koreans into the final to face a fourth. Qiu and Bao stopped the Universiade gold medallists in straight games 21-13, 21-19.
Once again Saina Nehwal (pictured) has blocked her European colleague, Juliane Schenk. Just as with last week’s Denmark Open, India’s best female player of all time prevented Juliane Schenk from advancing up the podium. Saina played superbly, displaying fantastic form on court, despite the long run she had a week ago.
“I am not in particularly good form,” admitted Saina Nehwal. “I still feel a pain in my knee but fortunately I have a wonderful physiotherapist who helps me everyday to continue playing at a high level.”
However the first part wasn’t such an easy run, as Juliane Schenk led the way, until she sent two shuttles clearly out. After protesting to the umpire about the speed of the shuttles, the German got back into the game, but couldn’t seem able to gain her focus again, leaving Saina to finish it off 21-19.
The second game was a nightmare for the German player, who misjudged far too many shuttles and just couldn’t find the rhythm again to be able to threaten her opponent.
“Juliane played really well in the first game. I really had to bring out the best of me to secure the win. It feels fantastic to reach the final, my second in a row,” commented Saina Nehwal, who will play young Japanese player Minatsu Mitani, an upset winner over her veteran compatriot Eriko Hirose.
“I won against [Mitani] last week so I know her quite well. She plays really well and fights hard. Tomorrow won’t be easy but hopefully I’ll make it happen.”
More schooling from the elders
Minatsu Mitani would be the only player to beat an older compatriot on semi-finals day in Paris, however. After the women’s doubles win by the Chinese pair with the higher average age, the day ended with up-and-coming Korean pair Kim Sa Rang and Kim Ki Jung having to bow to Lee Yong Dae.
After having three great runs in the past two years stopped by Lee and former partner Jung Jae Sung, the two Kims this time were just shy of pushing Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun (pictured) to a deciding game. The younger pair, though, are managing the tactical side much more efficiently against players they play regularly at the national training centre.
Despite a very close second game, the newly reformed pair of Ko and Lee looked confident from the beginning to close out this match in their favour and rush to the final where they will meet another up and coming, in the name of Bodin Issara and Maneepong Jongjit.
The Thais met China’s Hong Wei and Shen Ye. Both pairs claimed their first major titles in Europe in the past year but it was the young Thais who had the intensity to take home this semi-final and get a shot at their second Superseries title of the year.
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