U.S. OPEN 2010 SF – Jonassen’s touch proves magic for Ouseph

Rajiv Ouseph will play for his first final of a Grand Prix tournament this Sunday in California, only a few weeks after Denmark’s Kenneth Jonassen took charge of the men’s […]


Rajiv Ouseph will play for his first final of a tournament this Sunday in California, only a few weeks after Denmark’s Kenneth Jonassen took charge of the men’s singles coaching in Milton Keynes.

By Don Hearn & Raphael Sachetat (with Badminton England). Photo: Badmintonphoto (archives)
Not a month into the job, and Kenneth Jonassen already has something to be happy about: a final spot in the final of a major tournament  for one of his new trainees, Rajiv Ouseph (photo).
The three-time English national champion and world No. 22 from Middlesex took a major step towards a place in the world’s top 20 when he won a close semi-final contest with Singapore’s Ziliang Derek Wong 21-19, 19-21, 21-15 in 54 minutes.  The two players were neck-and-neck in the deciding game but Ouseph managed to pull away at 12-11 to secure victory and clinch a first ever final at this level.

It was a great match,” said new men’s singles coach Jonassen. “In the first game Raj was trailing all the way but, with a good change of tactics and toughness, he made a really good comeback and was able to win that game even though it was not his to win.

“Both played well in the second game but Wong was a little faster and had the upper hand, but again Raj came back at the end. It was just that this time his push was a little too late and Wong ended the second game with two good smashes beyond Raj’s reach.

“The third game was always going to come down to who wanted it the most and who was able to keep the right tactics. Both players where very tired, but Raj had just what was needed and played with both power and a good mind game, showing no sign of giving up, He was the stronger player today.

Second final in a row for Leverdez

Ouseph will meet France’s Brice Leverdez (photo)  who knocked out Yuichi Ikeda of Japan in an even closer semi-final, winning 18-21 21-17 25-23 in 65 minutes. Leverdez saved four match points before winning on his third. The French enters his second final after his great run in Vancouver last week.

“The final against Brice will be very tough because at the moment he is full of confidence after last week’s Canadian final against Taufik.

“But the chances are there although again it will be a matter of who can handle the pressure better and still maintain a high level of play,” added Jonassen.

The two players have met twice before back in 2007. Ouseph won 28-26 in the third game when they met in the Irish Open but Leverdez won in straight games when they met again in the Spanish Open.

Lucky number 4?

Four is an unlucky number in several Asian cultures but it keeps popping up at the .  On semi-finals day, like a day earlier, there were four repeat matchups from the Canada Open.  However, unlike Thursday, only 3 of these went the same way on Friday.  This was good news for Germany as the payback win by Fuchs/Overzier over Chinese Taipei’s Chen/Cheng gave them their only finals appearance for this week.  They will take on Canada Open champions Lee Shen Mu / Chien Yu Chin after the other Taiwan pair beat Indonesia Open champions Mateusiak/Zieba in two.

Nor was mixed doubles the closest discipline to producing a second all-European final.  Juliane Schenk once again pushed Zhu Lin to three games before the former World Champion booked her second final appearance in consecutive weeks with a narrow 21-23, 21-17, 21-18 victory.

FANG-LEE-04-TPE-DLC-KoreaOpen2009On July 23rd, 2006, Judith Meulendijks was standing on top of a podium in Macau celebrating what remains her only Grand Prix title to date.  On the fourth anniversary of that occasion, California badminton fans watched her dominate Japan’s Shizuka Uchida en route to the U.S. Open Grand Prix Gold final. Meulendijks will take on Zhu Lin in Sunday’s final, after the former world champion from China displayed once more her former compatriot Pi Hongyan, this time in an easier matter.

Chinese Taipei may have been close to placing five pairs in the U.S. Open finals but on the other hand, they were in danger of having only two or three. First, Chen Hung Ling / Lin Yu Lang had two save two match points against home favourites Bach/Gunawan before pulling it out 20-22, 24-22, 21-16.  Then Canada Open winners Fang Chieh Min / Lee Sheng Mu (pictured) struggled back from a game down against Korea’s Shin/Kim before finally winning it 13-21, 21-14, 21-18.

The Chinese Taipei team has thus once again wrapped up one title and will be favoured to win two more.  This is exactly the kind of momentum they will want right before they return home for the upcoming Chinese Taipei Open, which is now offering a whopping US$200,000 in prize money.  Defending champions Chen/Lin will be keen to win their share of that while Fang/Lee will be glad to have ample Korean experience under their belts as their main competition back in Asia could come from Shin/Kim as well as three more experienced and decorated Korean partnerships.

All results HERE

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.