CANADA OPEN 2011 Day 3 – Title defenses still on track

3 defending champions finished Day 3 with easy victories at the 2011 Yonex Canada Open Grand Prix, as the last 3 matches saw Taufik Hidayat and Taiwan’s Cheng/Chien and Fang/Lee […]

3 defending champions finished Day 3 with easy victories at the 2011 Yonex , as the last 3 matches saw Taufik Hidayat and Taiwan’s Cheng/Chien and Fang/Lee all won in two.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Richmond.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

Last year, Chinese Taipei took all three doubles titles and all three are back this year as top seeds but they had almost the same track record going into last week’s U.S. Open, from whence the team left with only a singles gold.

Things had looked a little grim earlier today, too, when Lin Yu Lang lost two key matches, one with in his world #his partnership with Chen Hung Ling.  However, both of last year’s mixed doubles finalists Lee/Chien and Chen/Cheng went through and two more, Fang/Lee and Cheng/Chien, sealed quarter-final berths in the last half hour of Thursday’s action.

Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin (pictured), in particular, had something to prove.  Although Fang/Lee had lost at an even earlier stage last week, their women’s doubles counterparts were today facing the pair that had eliminated them in last week’s quarter-final, Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na of Korea.

The Taiwan ladies had been in a similar situation in January with Kim Ha Na.  After scraping by Kim and then partner Eom Hye Won in Malaysia, they had trounced the young challengers the following week in Korea.  This time, however, there was more at play in the pair of matchups with the new Korean duo.

“Last week, in the U.S., we felt a little pressure because we really wanted to win,” explained Cheng Wen Hsing after the match.  “There were so many Taiwan people there cheering for us.

“This week, today was our first women’s doubles match because of the bye and we were not tired so we could put in plenty of effort.  Plus, I think since we are older, we were able to use our experience to our advantage.  That helped us to adapt to these courts, where no one can see where the shuttle is.”

Cheng certainly made the most of every loose return by the young Koreans, knocking off virtually everything that came her way at the net.  It was a thundering front service-line kill by Cheng that finally put the Taiwan pair ahead 17-16 in the first game and in the course of the match, she pelted both Koreans in the top of their heads on similar plays.

“Oh, and one more thing,” Cheng hastened to add, “we really didn’t want to lose again, two weeks in a row, to the same pair so I think that made a difference.”

Fang/Lee won their match with predictable ease over Austria’s Obernosterer/Zirnwald but they have earned a shot at U.S. Open winners Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae of Korea, who had an even easier romp over Japan’s Hiroyuki Saeki / Ryota Taohata.

Most of the crowd’s attention late on Thursday was reserved not for Lee Yong Dae, but for Taufik Hidayat (pictured), who played superb defense and selected all the right times to launch explosive attacks and thus survived a tough one against 2009 World Junior Champion Tian Houwei.  Taufik won 23-21, 21-18 and will take on Japan’s Takuma Ueda in Friday’s quarter-finals.

Size doesn’t matter

In the women’s singles, several diminutive athletes enjoyed big success on Thursday.  Michelle Chan, Tai Tzu Ying, Cheng Shao Chieh, and even 16-year-old and sub-5-foot Nozomi Okuhara (pictured), all saw off their – in some cases much taller – opponents.

French second seed Pi Hongyan came back from a game down to beat Japan’s Mitani Minatsu and in the quarter-finals, she will go up against Canada’s Michelle Li, one of the tallest remaining competitors, as well as the one with potentially the most crowd support.

Quarter-final action gets underway at 4PM local time and the four remaining Canadians, along with organizers, will be hoping for a large influx of weekend spectators.

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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 @