CANADA OPEN 2011 QF – Seeds down but stars through

Top seeds and defending champions Fang Chieh Min and Lee Sheng Mu had to bow and let Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun proceed to the semi-finals, extending the […]

Top seeds and defending champions Fang Chieh Min and Lee Sheng Mu had to bow and let Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun proceed to the semi-finals, extending the thrill for the crowd after Taufik Hidayat’s own victory.

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

The day finished as badly as it had begun for Taiwan’s double doubles defending champion Lee Sheng Mu.  In the first match of the day, he had dropped his mixed doubles match to an unseeded Thai team.  In the last match of the day, he had the crowd’s undivided attention as he and Fang Chieh Min, the men’s doubles top seeds, were unable to prevail over U.S. Open champions Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun (pictured).

The atmosphere was quite different for the men’s doubles match, though, from what it was in the previous match, where another defending champion, former Olympic gold medallist Taufik Hidayat (pictured below), eked out a 21-19, 21-17 win over up-and-coming Japanese player Takuma Ueda.

Taufik was without a doubt the crowd’s favourite and his cheering section was minus only the Japanese challenger’s team-mates and he even had to compete for attention with a men’s doubles upset in the adjacent court, where Thailand’s Maneepong Jongjit was wreaking more havoc by offing the 8th seeded Germans in two straight games.

By the time Fang/Lee took to the court, all eyes were on them and their opponents.  Also, apart from Taufik, men’s doubles challenger Lee Yong Dae was definitely the tournament’s top draw.  Even still, with the legions of overseas Chinese in the southern B.C. region, support for Taiwan was fervent and vocal and thus the crowd was seriously divided for the final men’s doubles.

Not that this division was in any way apparent until well into the match.  The Koreans came out firing with 8 unanswered points and it was only when Fang and Lee finally thundered down a smash to grab their first that the potential of their cheering section was heard.

“We played really well in the first game and won it rather easily,” said Lee Yong Dae after the match.  “But in the second we fell behind and so we had to work to regain our focus.”

Ironically, halfway through the second game, the Koreans were forced to give their fans even more of what they wanted as they were directed by the referee to change jerseys as the rule book apparently states that an unseeded team may not sport the same colour as a seeded team.  Hence, when the blue came off and Lee and Ko pulled on their yellow replacements in the slightly chilly hall, the hoots from the fans rivalled the cheers for the most thrilling rallies.

The Koreans were able to pull it together for the last half of the second game, too, and took the match 21-8, 21-16.

“Of course, when we came for the U.S. and Canada Opens, we were aware that Fang and Lee had won both of these tournaments last year,” said Lee, “but at the same time, Jung Jae Sung and I have always been able to beat them and so we thought we had a pretty good chance.

“I came here hoping to win both in mixed and men’s doubles and it is unfortunate that we couldn’t get through in mixed but we figure we’re here and we still have a chance in the men’s doubles, so we are going to go for it and do our best.”

Korean coach Kang Kyung Jin confirmed that the North American tour was originally primarily with the mixed doubles in mind, not only for Lee Yong Dae and Ha Jung Eun, who were reunited back in March for the Swiss Open, but also for Ko Sung Hyun to test out his partnership with Kim Ha Na.

Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei still has hopes for two doubles golds involving Cheng Wen Hsing but also has both Tai and Cheng in the running for women’s singles.  China is out of the singles events but is one of two nations with a shot at all 3 doubles titles, the other being Germany, which also has Marc Zwiebler in strong contention for the men’s singles title.

China also has a shot at sealing a title a day early, as both Luo/Luo and Bao Yixin / Cheng Shu (pictured) won their women’s doubles matches, in separate halves of the draw.  The latter took care of last year’s Singapore Open champions Shinta Mulia Sari / Yao Lei in two quick games.

Click here for complete results

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 @