SS FINALS 2010 Day 1 – Favourites flying after first evening

The favoured men’s sides wowed both their opponents and the crowd in the evening session of Day 1 as Korea finished off a perfect four for the day and Lee […]

The favoured men’s sides wowed both their opponents and the crowd in the evening session of Day 1 as Korea finished off a perfect four for the day and Lee Chong Wei was the only All England champion to hold his ground.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Taipei.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Lee Chong Wei had his way with Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh on Wednesday evening.  Nguyen seemed to be doing everything right but Lee Chong Wei was so flawless and his attacks so lethal that the Vietnamese underdog still struggled considerably to keep the score close in the first game. Nguyen was much more competitive in the second, where he was able to tie it up at 17-all before finally ceding Lee’s four-point kick to the finish line.

“Lee Chong Wei is such a good player on the attack because he is so fast and sharp,” said Nguyen.  “I started to figure out how to play him in the second game but at the very end, I was to careful and I left him too many chances near the net.  I should have kept lifting and pushing him to the back as I was doing.

“I have beaten Jan Jorgensen but against Gade I have only won a couple of games from him.  All I can do at this point is do my best.”

Gade meanwhile, bested compatriot Jan Jorgensen to draw level with Lee in the men’s singles Group A and will face Nguyen on Thursday evening.  Jorgensen, who is coming off an injury, will need to pull off a miracle against the mighty, in-form Lee Chong Wei to keep hope alive for a semi-final berth.

The Taipei crowd had their appetite whetted for home success when top seeds Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin dispatched Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari / Greysia Polii in two quick games.  There was to be no such glory for the follow-on show on centre court as Fang Chieh Min / Lee Sheng Mu could not find the winning formula against third-seeded Koreans Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae.

“We had beaten this team once in the past but it wasn’t really like a home court advantage for them today,” said Jung Jae Sung afterward.  “Because our sponsor is based in Taiwan and is sponsoring this event, we have been getting a lot of support and attention from fans and staff here so it’s almost like we’re playing at home in Korea.

“It’s not really a matter of crowd support in the hall that could help us against our other opponents, though.  When we are on court we are so focussed on the match that we are barely able to notice whether there are many fans or few.

“Every match in this tournament is so crucial, including the one today but tomorrow’s against Kido/Setiawan especially, now that a win against them will ensure us a semi-final spot.  We have had ups and downs against them and a really disappointing loss in the Asian Games but I think our record against them will go to 5 and 5 when we play them tomorrow.”

As Jung and Lee were celebrating their victory, Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Seong were just commencing yet another upset of Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong.  Ko/Yoo may be top seeds here but it is Koo/Tan who spent most of last year at world #1 and who own the coveted hardware from the All England, Asian Games and the inaugural Super Series Finals.  Still, the Koreans proved that they were prepared to continue in 2011 as they had in 2010, when they dominated this Malaysian pair three matches to zero.

That didn’t mean it was going to be easy, however.  Although the Koreans were able to put some distance between themselves and their opponents in the first game, the Malaysians continually reeled them in in the second, helped somewhat by a few nervous service errors from the Koreans.  The pattern continued right up until the Koreans’ first two match points but they finally converted on the third, when Yoo Yeon Seong scurried to the back line chasing down a lift.  The call of ‘out’ was punctuated by a jubilant cry from Yoo as he stopped short of running into the back wall.

“I think the reason we seem to have an edge over this pair is that we don’t feel pressure to beat them,” explained Ko Sung Hyun while his partner was still signing autographs.  “They are such excellent players that we are always the underdogs and that allows us to just relax and play our best.

“Now that we have been beating them, though, we are really growing in confidence and that is why we seem to be able to focus and anticipate their attacks and also find ways to beat their great defense.”

Ko, of course, started the day with a win in mixed doubles and of the five athletes who are competing in two disciplines this week, he was the only one who managed to start on a winning note in both.  Zhang Nan, Zhao Yunlei, and Petya Nedelcheva all had a winless Wednesday while Kunchala Voravichitchaikul won her Round 1 against Zhao Yunlei but will have to face her again on Friday in the women’s doubles, where she lost her first match this afternoon.

“I wonder whether this being the start of a brand new season might mean some players haven’t been doing enough training,” Ko conjectured.  “Actually, I haven’t been training enough either but perhaps I managed to stay in slightly better shape than my opponents.”

Ko and Yoo will again be playing in the climactic match on Thursday when they will be looking for their first ever win against China’s Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng, who edged out their compatriots earlier Wednesday afternoon.

For complete results from Day 1 of the BWF Super Series Finals, CLICK HERE

Come stay with us for the Super Series Finals at the Chateau de Chine.  Located at the heart of Sinjhuang City, Chateau de Chine Hotel is created to convey the vibrant and everlasting sense of traditional beauty. Inspired by the Art Nouveau style, Chateau de Chine hotel infuses the finest elegance of French design with an authentic touch of oriental aesthetics.   If you are looking for quality accommodation during the event or anytime you are visiting Taipei, check out their website here.

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @