ASIAN GAMES 2010 Indiv. Day 5 – Zhao and Tian first Gold medallists!

Zhao Yunlei and Tian Qing (pictured) were the first winners of the individual event as the women’s doubles final was held on its own on Friday evening. Koo and Tan […]

Zhao Yunlei and Tian Qing (pictured) were the first winners of the individual event as the women’s doubles final was held on its own on Friday evening. Koo and Tan are still on to keep their title and will face Kido and Setiawan in Saturday’s final of the men’s doubles.

By Raphaël Sachetat, live from Guangzhou. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

The smile on Zhao Yunlei’s face after the tears she shed when she first won the women’s doubles was a precious moment of sport. The 24-year-old partnered Tian Qing – a last minute replacement for Zhao’s usual partner Shu Cheng – to a win she could celebrate as one of her brightest moments, even if she’s been on the world stage for some years now.

Facing Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, the duo of smiling girls were close to winning the first game but failed to convert their only game point. Instead, it was Yu and Wang who scooped the first game 22-20.  The long rallies would take their toll on Wang Xiaoli, who seemed to be having trouble coping with the impenetrale defense and hard smashes from her opponents, and the second game went the other way. And the third too, much easily, as Wang Xiaoli was obviously having trouble moving around the court. After match point – and the 20-22, 21-15, 21-12 success from Zhao and Tian, Wang got treated by the Chinese doctor directly on the court while her compatriots were celebrating and throwing rackets and towels to the spectators who were fighting to keep them.

“It was a tough match and we all tried our best, but luck was on our side today,” said Zhao Yunlei.

Same players to shoot it out again…

Four years ago, in Doha, Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong (pictured) met Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan in the semi-final of their maiden tournament victory. It will be a rematch on Saturday, between the Malaysians and the Indonesians who seem to excel into rising to the right occasions. After their well deserved title in Beijing Olympics, Kido/Setiawan could scoop the gold if they play the kind of match they put on against Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung.

The Koreans, who had been just unbeatable against Cai/Fu earlier in the draw, were just caught by surprise as Lee had feared the previous evening: the Indonesians grabbed them by the throat as soon as they got on court to lead clearly from very early onwards, taking the net and not letting go until the shuttle was on the floor.

The Koreans did react well in the second game, which they scooped 21-13 – also thanks to a drop in Kido’s powerful smashes. But in the third, the tiny but well-built Indonesian was back in hitting gear while Setiawan was working wonders at the net, often rushing on the body of his opponents. It resulted in a final 21-18 victory for Kido and Setiawan (pictured), who will play for gold against Koo and Tan.

“I am happy we won this, we played well tonight. Our opponents attacked with a quick tempo in the second game, but we adjusted to their speed and managed to win the third game. Now, we have another shot at gold after Doha in 2006. I’ll give it my best try,” said Setiawan after the match.

At the time, the Malaysians had won, all fresh into their partnership at the end of 2006. On Friday, the two friends played a very offensive game, but yet, seemingly having a lot of fun – especially in the times when they were side by side in defense mode – Tan Boon Heong would then defend walking, while it was practice time, with a smile on his face.

Their opponents, Alvent Yulianto Chandra – who was relegated to silver by the Malaysians in Doha in the final four years ago – and Muhammad Ahsan, were good enough to threaten the Malaysian duo, but each time, towards the end of the game, Koo and Tan came on top, under the eyes of Rexy Mainaky and Tam Kim Her, on the coach’s chairs.

A mouth watering final lies ahead, between the four shuttlers who have a lot of respect for each other. The Malaysians lead the head to heads by 7-4 But the Indonesians have won 4 out of their 5 meetings, the latest being at the SEA Games final in Vientiane last December.

Super Dan joins the others

Last but not least, the evening session saw Lin Dan (pictured) toy with Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh. The latter had some great moments but Lin was obviously tiring his opponent and making him run the four corners, avoiding use of his famously lethal left-handed attacks too early in the rally.

Lin, however, managed to stay on top at all times for a final 21-9, 21-16 success. He’ll take on Park Sung Hwan in the semi-finals played on Saturday before Sunday’s final showdown, where both he and Chen Jin could face each other. Park Sung Hwan and Lee Chong Wei will try to prevent that.

For complete results CLICK 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.