SWISS OPEN 2011 SF – Korean dominance continues

A strong but China-less field at the Swiss Open has ceded even more finals spots to Korea than the Grand Prix in Gimcheon last fall.  But Saina Nehwal is the […]

/ Kim Ha Na (KOR) © Thierry Jayet

A strong but China-less field at the has ceded even more finals spots to Korea than the in Gimcheon last fall.  But Saina Nehwal is the only one taking on a Korean opponent on Sunday while mixed is already set to stay in Europe.

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

Semi-finals day of the Swiss Open started with longest match of the day – mixed doubles between #4 seeded Danes Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen and defending champion Lee Yong Dae, playing this year with former partner Ha Jung Eun. We saw a spectacular match full of smashes and net shots, long rallies and few usual discussions with court officials on the Danish side.  The Danish pair had more luck at the end of the 71-minute match, saving one match point en route to winning 15-21, 21-17, 22-20.  The spectators were happy to see the first Europeans book a spot in the finals.

Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) © Thierry Jayet

A high standard was set and for the first session and it continued in this vein, with only 3-game matches around one hour in length. Saina Nehwal (IND) against Bae Youn Joo (KOR) with her normal confidence confirmed that she is not seeded nr.2 without reason. Long rallies and a lot of tricks opened the doors to the finals for Indian star, who came back from 6-14 down in the first to win it 21-19.

Saina will be looking to extend her unbeaten streak against Korean players.  Her last loss was to Jun Jae Youn in 2007.  Her finals opponent will be Sung Ji Hyun, who snapped Juliane Schenk’s own dominance of Korea, which started just after her loss at home in Germany in 2009.  Sung made her reversal of fortune complete by waltzing to the finals in two games over Schenk, who had eliminated the Korean in last year’s first round in Basel.

After the first two afternoon matches, it was time for Korea to switch on the engines and Lee Hyun Il upset Simon Santoso so much, that it looked that Simon lost his motivation in the middle of the second game.  Women’s doubles showed us that the times of boring long rallies with the shuttle high under the ceiling is definitely over.  An exciting match between Indonesia and Korea kept spectators on their seats even when in the foyer there were a lot of possibilities to spend some pleasant time. Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii finally didn´t have the power like their Korean opponents.  Kim Ha Na and Jung Kyung Eun, meanwhile, will be entering a Grand Prix final for only the second time and for each, the last time was as opponents in Gimcheon in November.

Fang Chieh Min / Lee Sheng Mu (TPE) © Thierry Jayet

The first session was completed by Korean victory in men´s doubles where Fang Chieh Min / Lee Sheng Mu were trying hard.  The first game was 9-2 for the Chinese Taipei pair within a few minutes.   This time, though, it was a Korean pair’s opportunity to save two match points as they denied Fang/Lee 26-24 in the second.  After one hour proper, defending champions Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong had their rackets above their heads.

Nathan Robertson / Jenny Wallwork (ENG) © Thierry Jayet

The second session started very successfully for Europe. Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork walked easily and safely into finals over Indonesian Tantowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir. The rest of the evening belonged to Korea.  Matches of no more than 45 minutes showed nice clever badminton, a lot of tricks and one country’s dominance. From 9 Korean participants, 7 of them will still be seen on finals day of the Swiss Open 2011.

The only upset, on paper, came when Kim Min Jung / Ha Jung Eun beat 5th seeds Pedersen/Rytter Juhl of Denmark in two.  Although the Koreans were once ranked #2 in the world, they – like Jenny Wallwork, Kim Ha Na, and Sung Ji Hyun – will be looking for a first ever Grand Prix title on Sunday.

For complete semi-final results from the 2011 Wilson Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold, CLICK HERE

About Michaela Bencova