MALAYSIA OPEN 2012 SF – A day of thrills

Cho Gun Woo / Shin Baek Cheol carried on with their amazing run in Malaysia as they named Chai Biao / Guo Zhendong the toppest pair they have beaten as […]

Cho Gun Woo / Shin Baek Cheol carried on with their amazing run in Malaysia as they named Chai Biao / Guo Zhendong the toppest pair they have beaten as one. Meanwhile, Kenichi Tago received a speedy entrance into the final as his opponent of the day retired from the match several minutes after it kicked off, while Lee Chong Wei survived the bullets from Chen Long later in the day.

By Ooi Ee Lyn, live in Kuala Lumpur. Photos: Yves Lacroix, Badmintonphoto (live)

Current world #141 Cho / Shin first gained attention early in the week when they ousted Howard Bach / Tony Gunawan – the first US pair crowned World Champion (in 2005) – in the second round on Thursday. After scooping the quarterfinal’s match from world #10 Naoki Kawamae / Shoji Sato yesterday, the Koreans decided to keep up their good play by eliminating the tournament’s third seed and defending champions, Chai/Guo, and proceed into their first Super Series final.

Cho / Shin didn’t require a rubber set to make it, but it wasn’t easy play for them either – even though Olympics mixed doubles champion Lee Yong Dae seemed to be giving them tips from the players’ seats when Shin approached closer at the back end of the court. Fresh from surviving the thrill of deucing past 20-all – and finally taking the first set 26-24 – the following set maintained the suspense for the Koreans as they took turns with their opponents in taking the lead. The second set, as well, trespassed the 20-20 barrier. It eventually ended 23-21 in the Koreans’ favour, while destroying Chai/Guo’s hope of defending the title in Kuala Lumpur.

In the women’s doubles division this evening, fourth seeds Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito came a step closer to signing their first win in six meetings against second seeds Ha Jung Eun / Kim Min Jung of Korea, as they clinched the first set 21-17. However, the Japanese ended up giving in as they began to lost control of the drift in the second set. Ha/Kim then hammered their sixth consecutive victory over Matsuo/Naito in 21-15, 21-12 in the following sets.

Post-match, Shizuka Matsuo commented, “The wind is stronger today than it was before. When we switched ends in the second set, the wind came in opposite direction and it became difficult for us to control the shuttle. Our opponents probably lost the first game because they were struggling with the wind as well.

Chen Jin cites sudden injury

The men’s singles semi-finals match between Chen Jin and Kenichi Tago came to an end even before heating up the courts. As Tago scored his opening point to make in 1-2 with Chen, the Chinese suddenly signalled to the umpire that he is injured and needed the doctor. Meanwhile, the coaches from the Japanese team, Keita Masuda and Park Joo Bong voiced out to the officials that they weren’t satisfied with the situation, as the Chinese were taking too long, and having a team doctor talking to Chen from outside the court was against the BWF rules and regulations.

After having his right leg checked by the doctors, Chen carried on with the game, only to allow his opponent to earn two more points before he raised his hand once again and signalled that he decided to end the match.

Chen  explained, “It wasn’t an old injury. I think I injured my leg when I landed from a jump during the second rally. I’m not quite sure what is wrong now, either,” and he hurriedly, along with his team doctor, asked to be allowed to leave right away in order to look into the problem with his leg. “It’s unfortunate and regretful,” said Chen as he grabbed his racquet bag and left the hall.

On the other hand, a disappointed Tago voiced, “I’d like to play. It’s disappointing that I don’t get to play now. I better get going and practice now to prepare for tomorrow’s game.” He said, “I’m expecting to meet Lee Chong Wei in the finals tomorrow. I’m looking forward to play against him, because he’ll be doing his best seeing he’s playing on home ground. I’d like to play Lee Chong Wei in his best.

Stepping onto court earlier than planned, Wang Xin denied the ‘Queen of international matches’ title she received – for her often defeats by comrades while having the ability to win players from other nations – as she brushed of fellow Wang, Wang Shixian in straight sets. She will face a replay of the semi-finals last year, as she meets Wang Yihan tomorrow to fight for the title she had two years ago.

Home ground favourite, Lee Chong Wei gave Malaysian fans a thrill as he lost the second set 17-21 to Chen Long, and was seen trailing early in the decider. After twisting and turning and trying a change of strategy, Lee, finally, hammered the nail-biter 21-13, and the spectators in the stadium all sprang from their seats simultaneously with the arrival of the final point.

An exhausted Lee in pink, still panting as he sat down at the post-match press conference, said, “If I wasn’t playing in Malaysia, my spirits wouldn’t have been as high. The supporters were supporting me all the way and that helped me. As long as the shuttle hasn’t touched the ground, I kept trying my best to go for it.” The Malaysian will strive to protect his home title from Kenichi Tago tomorrow, although, as he claimed, “Tago is young and he might have an advantage as he had a walkover today.

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About Ee-Lyn Ooi