SS FINALS 2012 Day 3 – Olympic finalists in by a whisker

After three three-game matches, a three-way tie atop men’s doubles Group A was decided when the tournament referee had to count points and Cai/Fu and Boe/Mogensen advanced.

After three three-game matches, a three-way tie atop men’s doubles Group A was decided when the tournament referee had to count points and Cai/Fu and Boe/Mogensen advanced.

By Renee Yang, Badzine Correspondent live in Shenzhen. Photos: Arthur Van Der Velde for Badmintonphoto (live)

Friday was the last day of round robin, and most matches would decide who would advance to the knockout round. The situation was in a whirl inside so many groups and the result would be depending on their performance today.  When the dust settled, three groups still had three-way ties, but none were closer than the men’s doubles.

Surviving the brush with the ‘Group of Death’

In men’s doubles Group A, due to the withdrawal of Korean combination Kim/Kim, Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong were free today, their fate would be decided by the result of the match between Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen and Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng (pictured).

In the first game, Cai/Fu showed impressive skills of serve/return and dominated the net, allowing them to finish the rallies in relatively few strokes. They took the game easily in 21-14. But from the start of game 2, they became quite slacken and lost their concentration, made many errors and allowed the Danes to get several runs of points, finally losing the remaining games 12-21, 14-21.

The Chinese pair still advanced from the tighest group of the tournament but it was decided by their higher point difference as all three pairs had 1-1 won/lost records in matches and 3-3 in games.  It was, in fact, the best possible outcome for the Chinese pair, as they advanced without meeting their team-mates – Group B runners-up Hong Wei / Shen Ye – in the semi-final.

The stands became more crowded on Friday evening, and may even have surpassed 70% attendance. The match between Tine Baun and Ratchanok Intanon was the one to watch.

Already having won two matches and secured a place in semi-final, Ratchanok played quite relaxed and turned the match into her personal show. Lots of spectators were stunned by her varied deceptions, exquisite net play and powerful attacks. When she took the match point and bowed to the stands in Thai style, the crowd echoed with tumultuous applause.

Saina Nehwal had already lost two matches and Friday was her last-ditch fight. Obviously, she was in better form tonight while Juliane Schenk was tense and lost the first game rapidly. In the second game, Juliane reduced her errors and tried to fight back, but when it came to crucial points, she became tense again. Finally, Saina took the match and advanced with higher game difference, booking a semi-final date with the mighty Li Xuerui (pictured), who prevented a three-way tie atop Group A by trouncing Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun in two.

Another impressive match was Liew Daren vs. Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (both pictured). Both had a chance to advance before the match began, but Daren needed to win in straight games while Hans just needed to win one game. Hence, in the first game, both players tried their best. Daren was a little tense in the beginning and made some errors.  He played carefully, controlling net with less attacking. Hans played more aggressively and led all the way until taking the game 21-17.

“Losing one game meant I had no chance to advance, so in games 2 and 3, I had no pressure,” said Liew afterward.  “I told myself to just relax and give my best.”

Daren became quite active and dared to use more deception and tactics.  His attacking was also fast and difficult for Vittinghus to anticipate, and finally the Malaysian took the next two for the comeback victory.

Click here for complete Friday results

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