SS FINALS 2012 Day 2 – Wang Shixian’s struggle for redemption

The women’s singles group stage at the CR Land BWF is drawing to a close as Ratchanok Intanon and Li Xuerui both qualified for the next round. Wang Shixian kept her hopes alive with victory over Sung whilst Juliane Schenk demonstrated her improvement this year by beating Baun in three.

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

Wang Shixian, not originally qualified for the event, benefitted from the unfortunate injury to her team-mate and world number 1 Wang Yihan. Increasingly under pressure after underperforming in the early stages of tournaments has seen her lose her national team ranking to Li Xuerui, who won the Olympic title at her first appearance earlier this year, Wang has a point to prove amongst her colleagues.

In Wang’s second outing in Shenzhen, Sung Ji Hyun of Korea targeted Wang’s backhand, as the Chinese player struggled with her footwork going backwards. Wang did control the net, but both players lacked the attacking skills and speed to hit early winners so the match featured very long rallies. Wang held her nerve to make fewer mistakes than Sung, coming through to win 21-19, 21-19 in a battle lasting 55 minutes.

“I lost to my team-mate yesterday, so I was worried a little before today’s match,” said Wang Shixian afterward.  “Now I’m at the bottom of my career, but many people have encouraged me saying that the bottom is the start of success. I hope I could pull through this difficult period and lift my form to face the matches next year.”

Li Xuerui continued her good form after victory against Wang yesterday, to win against Japanese opponent Eriko Hirose. Despite a very testing first game in which Li allowed Hirose to recover and take the game well into extra points, she regained her concentration to come through, winning 25-23, 21-15.

In the women’s singles Group B, the strength and performance of the four players is relatively even without the top seeded Chinese players. Tine Baun faced Juliane Schenk, and whilst the Dane led 8-2 in their head-to-head record coming into the match, this would not be an easy one as Schenk has improved vastly over the last couple of years.

It seemed, however, that Tine would inflict the usual result, as she looked largely untroubled taking the first game 21-14. Juliane was too eager to finish the points and made many errors whilst the more patient Baun better chose her moments to attack.

In the second game, Juliane controlled herself betterand improved the quality of her shots at the crucial moments, the German able to force a third winning 21-16. Unforced errors cost Tine the game and ultimately the match, as she seemed to lose control in the deciding game conceding a 3-14 deficit early on. The match lost its suspense as Schenk led from 2-all to the finish, winning the third to the tame score of 21-8.

Tine Baun commented after the match, “I had a lack of practice for the last 14 days, I wasn’t feeling that sharp anymore. Yes, I made stupid mistakes, but I also know that Juliane, she played well.”

Another player who has seen much recent success, Saina Nehwal, came to Shenzhen having won an Olympic bronze medal this year. Her opponent was the rising Thai star Ratchanok Intanon, who improved a lot in stamina and attacking skills recently after the CBSL this season.

Ratchanok ran Saina round the court with clever drops, waiting for her chance to kill. Her attacks were fast and unpredictable, in contrast to Saina, who made many unforced errors and was obviously not in good shape. Ratchanok started the second well, but Nehwal started to control the net play, recovering to lead 11-8 at the mid game, but unforced errors and misjudgments again cost her as she allowedthe youngster to win in straight games, 21-13, 21-16.

In the interview after the match, Saina would not put the blame on the lights and drift in the stadium, despite appearing frustrated with them during the match, commenting on her loss only that she was “not in shape” and that “today is just not my time.”

This result means that with two victories Ratchanok has secured a place in the semi-final, while all three others in Group B have a chance to qualify tomorrow.

Click here for complete Day 2 results

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