SINGAPORE OPEN 2012 R32 – Whose responsibility?

In the absence of their big sisters and brothers, Du Pengyu (pictured), Wang Zhengming, Han Li, and Chen Xiaojia carry the responsibility to keep China’s flag flying in the men’s […]

In the absence of their big sisters and brothers, Du Pengyu (pictured), Wang Zhengming, Han Li, and Chen Xiaojia carry the responsibility to keep China’s flag flying in the men’s and women’s singles respectively. However, this has become an uncertainty as both Du and Han made early exits today in the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Can Wang and Chen ensure that China’s flag will continue to fly at the Li-Ning ?

By Lee Suetyan, Badzine Correspondent, reporting live from Singapore.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

Han Li, the first Chinese women’s singles player on court today lost in two straight games to her opponent Cheng Shao Chieh (pictured below), whom she defeated in two straight games in the Macau Open last year. The opening game was interesting when both players put on a fabulous show and remained close until the final points. With the game hanging in the balance at 19-all, perhaps Cheng was too eager to get her first game point, and did a jumping drop shot on a half-court lift from Han. It was just a bit unlucky for Cheng because her faked jump smash didn’t turn in her favour as the shuttle fell back to her side of the net. She kneeled down immediately in disappointment after losing her first game point but she was able to win it back at 22-20. In the second game, Cheng sailed smoothly as she found no resistance from Han and won the second game by a comfortable 21-14.

Cheng said after the match “I played against her once before in the Macau Open last year, I lost to her in two straight games. I’ve never thought of revenge and I just want to play my best to get myself back in a good condition before the Olympic Games. Today my performance was not good.  I am still not satisfied.

“Yes, I was the runner-up in the World Championships last year, but the past is past. I will not think about it anymore. Even if I think about it, it will not help me in my Olympics. The coming Olympic Games are my third since 2004. I have not set any target for myself, but I just want to avoid some unnecessary injuries. I think the biggest enemy is still myself.  Whoever is my opponent is not important to me, I am just afraid that I won’t play well. I am the winner if I can beat myself.”

“Of course I have injuries.   What players do not suffer injuries?  An injury is not an excuse not to perform better at the international stage but it actually depends on oneself how to avoid those unnecessary injuries.”

“I am not too sure whether these will be my last Olympic Games because I am already 26. Furthermore, I am short.  Unlike taller players, I rely more on my speed, running, and flexibility on court to win a match. When my age increases, my overall ability will decrease.”

Finally, she also explained on the tattoo on her arm: “It is my name tattooed on my arm.  There is no reason behind it.  The simple reason is that I wanted to get a tattoo.  It is just for fun.”

Following in Han Li’s footsteps, Du Pengyu also made an early exit at the Singapore Open, after he lost to his opponent Sony Dwi Kuncoro (pictured below) in two straight games. But for Sony, it’s was sweet revenge for him because he lost to Du last week in the quarter-final of his home Indonesia Open. Du opened the first game in an aggressive way but failed to set up a comfortable lead as Sony was quicker in executing defensive strokes.

Du then set up a better second game, but he still couldn’t stop Sony from exacting his revenge for last week’s loss. Sony totally controlled the second game as he forced Du to dive here and there to save all the shuttles, and forced him to run all the corners. Du looked as though he had run out of ideas on how to play in the second game as compared to last week. The final result of this 37-minute first-round fight was 21-9, 21-17 for the former champion.

“I am not at my best today.  I didn’t control the shuttle well and my speed also not as fast as my opponent,” said Du after the match. “Th second game was better for me, but my opponent did some changes in his strategy after the interval, and I couldn’t follow his rhythm.

“Of course I will feel a little bit disappointed of this early exit, but I couldn’t blame anyone because the problem is with me. I couldn’t play at my best today.  I know I have to play against him today, I won’t say it is unlucky because this is a battle with a world class player.  I should appreciate the chance to play with player like him.”

Asked how to improve the attractiveness of badminton, Pengyu smiled and said: “I hope the prize money for badminton tournament can increase more in the future.”

Hence, with the loss of Du and Han, the China team has now left only Wang Zhengming and Chen Xiaojia in the men’s singles and women’s singles respectively. Can Wang and Chen keep China’s flag flying through the week or will they follow Du and Han’s footsteps? Let’s see.

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About Suetyan Lee