SS FINALS 2012 Day 1 – Early casualties in ‘group of death’

All eyes were on the group A of the men’s double event in Shenzhen, called the “group of death” with no less than 3 of the last Olympics’ semi finalists. Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong were the first to fall while Boe and Mogensen enjoyed an easy ride after the Korean pair of Kim/Kim withdrew before then end of game 1.

By Renee Yang, Badzine Correspondent live in Shenzhen. Photos: Arthur Van Der Velde for Badmintonphoto (live)

The must-watch match list in the group stage are obviously the men’s doubles matches from Group A, which includes the favourites, 4-time World Champions and London Olympic gold medallists Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng (photo), along with London Olympic runners-up Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen, Malaysia men’s doubles top pair Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong and Korean rising stars Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang: a real Group of Death.

Every group match here was expected to be as crucial as an early men’s doubles semi-final or final; however honestly speaking, the first two matches from this group were a little disappointing.

Defending champions vs. the upstarts

The young Kim combination (photo) have solid defence, and were sometimes able to return the shuttles to places which their opponents found difficult to handle but the reverse was also often true.  Obviously, though, the youngsters could not compete with Danish pair on the quality of serve and return, and especially in the second game, the Danes dominated the net and got many points from their first three strokes.

When Boe/Mogensen led 17-9 in the second game, Kim Sa Rang declard that he had to withdraw due to an ankle injury.  In fact, along with the two no-shows from Jang Ye Na’s injury in Sunday’s final in Korea, the team already had three pairs gone from the .

Olympic semi-final repeat

Although Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng had a head-to-head record of 12-5 against Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (photo), every time these two pair meet, we can expect brilliant play from both sides.  Their last battle was last month’s Hong Kong Open final when Cai/Fu beat their Malaysian opponents in straight games.

But this time, the match between these two pairs was somewhat like a women’s doubles match, as speed, power, tactics, approach could were seldom to be seen.

Both pairs seemed to lack stamina and the desire to win and the match became a show or training session of attack and defence, the pair who made fewer errors winning.  The funniest scene happened during a very long rally in the second game: both pairs were so tired that Cai and Koo played several clears and made the spectators  jeer and laugh.

After the match, an exhausted Fu still donated 15 minutes to CCTV and GDTV for on-air interviews.  Regarding the match, he said: “We were too tired to give our best, so were our opponents, who have just played in the China Super League final. (see related article here)

During the Hong Kong Open, we were sure we would not qualify for the BWF final, and thought we could relax for a while.  But suddenly we were informed that we had to attend the event as a Japanese pair had withdrawn. As you know, it’s difficult to lift the status when your body and soul already been slackened.

As Lee Chong Wei had done, Fu also complained about the BWF schedule of tournaments: “Too many tournaments to play, especially for top players, as most events you have to play 5 matches. We understand that the BWF wants to promote the game at more and more places around the world, but sometimes they also should take players’ opinions into account.

We have not thought too much [about our future plans] and will concentrate on next year’s events such as the Sudirman Cup and the World Championships, we hope to get more and more titles to consolidate our victory records.”

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