Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth, winner of two titles in Vietnam last month, is again alive in two semi-finals in the Bukit Asam Indonesia Open Grand Prix Gold but now faces top seeds in both on a Saturday dominated by local shuttlers.
By Don Hearn. Photos: Ira Ratnati (live from Palembang)
Indonesian shuttlers are poised to try for a title sweep at their home Grand Prix Gold event. However, the women’s doubles is their one uphill struggle as Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth and Rizki Amelia Pradipta (pictured) are the only local pair remaining while the other three represent all the other nations going for titles.
Japan’s sole remaining chance in Palembang, Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi, also happen to be the top seeds in women’s doubles. They have cruised into the semis, dropping one game but never needing more than 34 minutes on court.
Matsutomo/Takahashi will need to beat a fourth local pair in a row to reach the final but it will be Pia and Rizki, as these two beat the higher-ranked Anneke Feinya Agustin / Nitya Krishinda Maheswari in two despite missing on their first five match point opportunities.
The other semi-final will feature the youngest semi-finalist, 15-year-old Chen Qingchen of China. She again got the better of Devi Aulia Shella / Anggia Shitta Awanda as she had at the Asian Junior Championships in July. This time, Chen and 17-year-old partner Huang Dongping (pictured) won a one-sided contest and thus booked a meeting with second seeds Eom Hye Won and Jang Ye Na of Korea.
Indonesia corrals 3 of 4 in 4 of 5
In all but women’s doubles, Indonesia grabbed all but one semi-final spot. In the remaining doubles, it is Korea standing alone while China is the holdout in both singles events.
Eom and her mixed partner Kim Sa Rang are the other players featuring in two semi-finals. Eom and Kim upset Singapore’s 3rd-seeded Danny Bawa Chrisnanta / Vanessa Neo in three close games. Pia and her brother Markis Kido, unseeded, took out 7th seeds Riky Widianto / Puspita Richi Dili to face the might Ahmad/Natsir, who ended their compatriots’ run at the quarter-final stage of the Indonesia Open Superseries Premier in June.
In the men’s doubles Kim Sa Rang and Kim Ki Jung are in another red-and-white sea. Specifically, they are up against Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki / Hendra Aprida Gunawan, whose upset of world #2 Boe/Mogensen in Japan last week could be seen as key to the Koreans’ winning the title.
China too, looks for three
Gao Huan (pictured) was up against Tommy Sugiarto in a battle of the former World Junior Championship runners-up. Although it is Tommy who has since made a name for himself on the senior circuit, Gao got the better of him in Palembang, winning 21-16, 15-21, 21-16 in the longest quarter-final.
“We all know Tommy is a good player, his reputation,” said Gao after the 72-minute match, “but during the game, I just tried hard to fight and win it.
“For the semi final, the home crowd will supporting [Sony] all the way. He has a lot of fans, and so I need to fight harder than today, because I think the match will much harder, too.”
Meanwhile, Alamsyah Yunus (pictured below) scored his first win over Simon Santoso to set up a rematch with Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka, who won their marathon semi-final last year en route to winning the title in Samarinda.
“This is the first time that I was able to beat Simon so I am happy,” said Alamsyah afterward. “In the match, I tried to play without lifting, because the air wasn’t really good and I tried to speed up the game, to keep pushing him.”
“Alamsyah was playing well today,” said Simon. “I have a sprain around my waist and foot but this is not a reason.
“Maybe Alamsyah felt something was wrong with me, and then he started playing faster so that I couldn’t get in to the game.”
While Gao Huan has two huge upsets to go before he can claim a singles title for China, Han Li is now the overwhelming favourite to take the women’s title. Indonesia’s Aprilia Yuswandari was the first to keep her on court more than half an hour but the #2 seed made it through and now faces Lindaweni Fanetri, the only other player yet to drop a game in this tournament.
“Today’s game was tougher than yesterday’s,” said Han Li. “Aprilia was playing quite well today. For the semi-final, I will try to play my best here, because I am the only representative from China.”
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