VIETNAM OPEN 2011 SF – Russians rush for gold

In a field packed with almost only Asian contenders, third seeded Russians Vitalij Durkin and Nina Vislova have remained flawless so far. Nevertheless they are the only pair able to […]

In a field packed with almost only Asian contenders, third seeded Russians Vitalij Durkin and Nina Vislova have remained flawless so far. Nevertheless they are the only pair able to take a title back to Europe on finals day. This in contrast to this year’s dominance by Singapore, who still have three irons in the fire.

By Elm Vandevorst, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

This year’s edition of the lured especially large delegations from neighbouring countries.  In the mixed doubles, Nina Vislova and Vitalij Durkin (pictured) were the only non-Asian pair that even entered the draw. Despite stiff competition from Chan Tsz Kit and Mong Kwan Yi in the first round, the Russian pair didn’t waste much time in all their other duels.

It was more of the same scenario in their semi-final against top seeded twosome Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Vanessa Neo. The Singaporeans, who triumphed at the White Nights in July, couldn’t find a solution to test their opponents.  After half an hour, Vislova / Durkin could already focus on the final, having prevailed with a clear 21-14, 21-17 victory.

The Russians’ final will be against Koreans Chung Eui Seok and Yoo Hyun Young, who eliminated 8th seeds Lai Pei Jing and Tan Aik Quan 21-14, 21-18.  It will be the first time Vislova has faced Yoo since losing a nailbiter to the Koreans in women’s doubles at the Paris Worlds last summer.

Despite the fact that Chrisnanta was eradicated in the mixed, he took revenge in the men’s doubles. Together with his partner Chayut Triyachart it took him three games. After losing the first 21-16, they won the nerve-racking second game against Malaysia’s Mak Hee Chun and Ong Soon Hock 21-19. The deciding rubber was easily won with 21-12.  They will need more of that form in the final, where they are to face India Open runners-up Angga Pratama / Ryan Agung Saputra.  The Indonesians looked strong on Friday, when they extended their string of straight-game wins over second seeds Kawamae/Sato of Japan, but in the semi-finals, they struggled to overcome Malaysia’s Goh/Lim, the pair who had embarrassed them in Singapore Open qualifying.

For Singapore, the good news show just kept on going. Also Fu Mingtian in the women’s singles and Shinta Mulia Sari / Yao Lei in the women’s doubles are to be seen in action on the last day of the tournament.  Fu Mingtian (pictured), also a regular in the women’s doubles, was up against Hwang Hye Youn. The Korean, not to be mixed up with her retired compatriot Hwang Hye Young, tries to reinstate her position as Korea’s best, one she lost after long recovery from a foot injury.  Vietnam marked her second semi-final since her return, the first being last summer, but she has been sent to only one Super Series event in that time.  Unfortunately, she was bunged 21-19, 21-15 by her opponent in Ho Chi Minh City, meaning Fu Mingtian can prepare for her final against Japan’s Imabeppu.

Kaori Imabeppu (pictured), the two-time Swedish International champion, caused a major upset by whipping third seeded Tai Tzu Ying, one of the biggest young talents around, in straight games, thus exacting some payback from her loss to the 17-year-old at this year’s Swiss Open.

Not falling into that trap, second seeds Yao Lei and Shinta Mulia Sari held off Koreans Choi A Reum and Yoo Hyun Yoo.  Still they had a difficult opening game and were truly tested by their adversaries. Taking the upper hand in the end 22-20, the Singaporean pair got the better of their rivals 21-17 in the second game.

With this Singaporean supremacy, it’s easy to forget that also the Vietnamese supporters can still look forward to a title from one of the home players.  None other than Nguyen Tien Minh is ready to go all the way, whereas he failed in last year’s edition.  His route to the final has been rather uneventful as not only has he yet to lose a game, but also no opponent has kept him on court for more than 39 minutes.  This year, the number one seed will bump into second seed Sho Sasaki, in what promises to be an intense clash between two top players.

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