JAPAN OPEN 2012 SF – Tales of the underdogs

One Thai and one Tai each staged comeback victories to reach the final of the Yonex Japan Open Superseries.

One Thai and one Tai each staged comeback victories to reach the final of the Yonex .

By Emzi Regala, Badzine Correspondent live in Tokyo.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

Just when everybody thought that China Masters finalist Hu Yun was about to put in a second consecutive finals appearance, Boonsak Ponsana (pictured) showed great determination and mental strength to stage a come-from-behind victory.  Down by 3 points, at 15-18 in the third game, the physically drained Thai star put up a truly inspiring performance to surge ahead to win 21-19 in the final game, thereby consummating a gruelling 1 hour and 16 minute semi-final match held at the jammed packed Yoyogi Stadium in Tokyo.

The first game started with both players sizing up one another through long rallies, utilizing all four corners of the court.  Boonsak confidently breezed through, taking command of the net to earn the first game, 21-17.

“I wanted to push Boonsak to the back-court, but it was just not working, so I had to change tactics,” said Hu Yun afterward.  “My goal in the second game was to tire him so I engaged him in long rallies.”

The Hong Kong shuttler then successfully turned the tables with the change of the court, this time, mimicking the Thai star’s tactics of going to the net and successfully winning points, while at the same time conserving energy.  Hu thus evened up the game count at one apiece with his own 21-17 second game win.

“He consumed too much energy attacking in the second game.  Half-way through, he was very exhausted, and ran out of gas,” Boonsak’s coach told the reporters.  “So in the final game, we knew that we could not match the speed and we didn’t have much power left, so Boonsak had to play a more clever game.”

“I won hard-fought matches in the first round against Soni Dwi [Kuncoro] and then Sasaki [Sho] after that,” added Boonsak.  “These hard-earned victories gave me the confidence and self-belief that I could win this.

“The odds are against me in tomorrow’s finals with Lee Chong Wei.  I have lost to him countless times before, but I have defeated him twice too, so who knows?  It will be hard, but I believe there is a chance.”

Taiwan’s Tai to challenge home favourite

In a similar tale of coming-from-behind, Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying (pictured) fought gallantly and stood triumphant against the higher ranked world #8 Sung Ji Hyun of Korea, again in another 3-game match that went over the hour mark.

Sung Ji Hyun started with great control, guiding the shuttle effortlessly.  Her younger Taiwanese opponent, however, looked very stiff while struggling to control the shuttle in the drift.  The first game easily went to the Korean, 21-16.

Along with the change court was a complete reverse of fortune.  Playing against the drift, Tzu Ying Tai played her disguised drop shots in excellent precision and took the second game 21-13.

The second-seeded Korean mostly dominated the first half of the third game but after the final change of court at the interval, Tai Tzu Ying again managed to take command with a little help from the wind.

“It was mostly the wind.  It was the reason why I lost the first game, and it gave me a big advantage towards the end of the final game,” said Tai Tzu Ying.  The 18-year-old will be appearing in her first ever Japan Yonex Open final against local shuttler Eriko Hirose (pictured), who is determined to make a come-back after her dismal 2011 international performance.

Click here for complete semi-final results

About Emzi Regala