SWISS OPEN 2011 QF – Korea sends 9 to final 4

Korea romped through quarter-finals day to stand poised for their first gold medal sweep since Germany in 2008 but there is still plenty of fine talent lined up against their […]

Ko Sung Hyun (KOR) © Thierry Jayet

Korea romped through quarter-finals day to stand poised for their first gold medal sweep since Germany in 2008 but there is still plenty of fine talent lined up against their nine semi-finalists.

By Michael Krug, Badzine Correspondent live in Basel. Photos: Thierry Jayet (live)

In 2008, despite a very solid, if not full-strength, Chinese contingent, Korea perpetrated one of only two non-Chinese sweeps of a event that decade.  On Friday in Basel, 9 of 11 Korean quarter-finalists saw their way through to the final ten matches.  None were more grateful for the Chinese absence than the women’s entries but that is still where both Korean casualties came from.

Juliane Schenk continued her two-year unbeaten streak versus Korea’s young upstarts. Schenk played a very good first game against Kim Moon Hi. For everything the tall Korean girl was putting to her, she had an answer. The spectators could watch very long hard fought rallies with, in most cases, the better end for Juliane Schenk. Kim somehow ran out of ideas and consequently Juliane clearly won the first game 21-14. In the beginning of the second game, the German lacked a bit of concentration, committing more errors than before and soon there was a big gap in score in favour of the Korean.

The spectators were already expecting a third game when Juliane suddenly found her composure and closed the gap point by point. At that stage she hardly made any errors and finally Kim lost her nerves giving away her lead and Juliane could book her semi-final ticket in straight two games.

Schenk goes on to play Sung Ji Hyun, who had the same sort of pattern against Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying, only she did require a third game before booking her semi-final spot.

Bae Youn Joo played a very solid game, hardly making any mistakes. She moved her opponent around the court at will and won easily in two straight games.  Bae will meet an old – or rather a fellow young – rival in Saturday’s semi-final.


Saina Nehwal (IND) © Thierry Jayet

Saina Nehwal had to work much harder, though, as her opponent Petya Nedelcheva fought hard and played impressive shots from the baseline. But Saina calmly played her game, trying to move Petya all around the court and showing great touch at the net. Saina won the first game 22-20 with a tight spinning net shot. In the second game, Saina soon was leading with a 5 point gap but Petya fought back making the game very exciting for the spectators. But in the end it was once more Saina’s netplay that made the difference. She won the second game 21-19 booking her ticket for the semi-final, where she will be looking for a fifth straight win over Bae Youn Joo.  The fellow 20-year-old has troubled but never beaten the Indian since they first played each other in juniors over 4 years ago.

If the story of quarter-finals day is still Korea’s 9 wins, the biggest upsets came from elsewhere on the badminton map.  Jan O Jorgenson surely will try to forget this day as soon as possible. Against the Malaysian veteran Wong Choong Hann, Jorgensen lost the first game in just a few minutes, visibly discontented, complaining several times about the shuttles. In the second game he fought hard, trying out everything but still was not able to find his range. Wong stayed calm and eliminated the number one seed in two unspectacular games.

The suprise quarter-finalist Ajay Jayaram from India started furiously in his match against Park Sung Hwan, soon leading 5-0. But Park soon found his game, and the rallies became longer and went more in favour of the Korean. Park closed the gap point by point, as Ajay Jayaram tried to play more aggressively, giving up his original game plan. This worked in favour of the Korean, who relished the counterattacking opportunities as he won the first game 21:19.


Lee Hyun Il (KOR) © Thierry Jayet

In the second game, Park was quickly leading by a 5 point margin and it seemed as if Ajay Jayaram had lost faith in himself. But he proved the audience to be wrong and at 2 17-18 had almost closed the gap when Park produced some really good shots and finally won the second game with the same result as the first, 21-19. He will meet Wong Choong Hann in the semi-final.

Pablo Abian, the quick Spaniard who eliminated former champion Muhammad Hafiz Hashim on Thursday, got a lesson in badminton from Lee Hyun Il. The Korean veteran, who came back from retirement in 2010, outplayed his opponent in every aspect of the game. With his deceptive shots, he wrongfooted Pablo Abian time and time again, making points at will. Nevertheless, Pablo never gave up and put a great show for the spectators but after 32 minutes the match was over with 21-14, 21-12 in favour of Lee Hyun Il, who will meet Simon Santoso in the semi-finals.

In the mixed, Lee Yong Dae and Ha Jung Eun disposed in a very onesided match in just 23 minutes of the number one seed pair of Chen and Cheng from Chinese Taipei. They will meet Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pederson from Denmark in the semi-final.  The Danes needed three games to overcome their opponents Ong/Chong from Malaysia.  Pedersen’s big moment came early in the day, however, when she and partner Kamilla Rytter Juhl offed women’s doubles top seeds Cheng/Chien.

The other European pair left in the draw, Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork, also needed three games to overcome Malaysian opposition. They will meet Liliyana Natsir and her new partner Tantowi Ahmad, whose easy win against the Danish combination of Mads Pieler Kolding and Julie Houmann booked them their ticket to the only Korea-less semi-final.

The last match of the day was also the climax of the day. The suprise pair of Ruud Bosch and Koen Ridder, who eliminated the number one seeds Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen in the second round, put up a great show against the Indonesian favourites Alvent Yulianto Chandra and Hendra Aprida Gunawan. The Netherlands started fast and furious, putting the Indonesian combination under constant pressure and the Indonesians found no means of overcoming the fast game of Bosch/Ridder. Consequently the first game was in favour of the Netherlands 21-16.


Schoettler & Kindervater (GER) © Thierry Jayet

In the second game, the Indonesians changed their tactics, playing clever shots and thus preventing Ruud Bosch from executing his strong attacking shots. The second game thus was in favour of the Indonesian side.

The third game was an exciting thriller with the Dutch combination leading with a small gap in the first half of the game. The spectators saw spectacular fast flat rallies with neither side willing to give away a lift.  At some moments one player on each side of the net played shots lying on the ground after having dived to retrieve the shuttle. The audience went wild and Bosch/Ridder gave everything but in the end the Indonesian pair overcome their opponents 21-17 in the deciding game. After the match even Hendra Aprida Gunawan showed the “thumbs up” to his opponents, who really would have deserved a ticket for the semi-finals today.

The Indonesians are thus up against the mighty Lee Yong Dae / Jung Jae Sung, as the 2008 champions themselves had some trouble with a tall and fired-up European side.

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