SS FINALS 2012 SF – 4th for Boe/Mogensen, 3rd for Denmark!

If the 77-minute badminton marathon win by Pedersen/Rytter Juhl over the Olympic champions wasn’t enough to thrill the crowd, Denmark sent a third pair to the finals of the CR […]

If the 77-minute badminton marathon win by Pedersen/Rytter Juhl over the Olympic champions wasn’t enough to thrill the crowd, Denmark sent a third pair to the finals of the CR Land BWF when underdogs Hong/Shen battled for 88 minutes before bowing to Boe/Mogensen.

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

The semi-final matches at the CR Land BWF Finals were a real treat to badminton fans.  Apart from except the first men’s doubles, which was not completed because of a lower back injury to Olympic gold medallist Cai Yun, all other matches were both forced to 3 games, with at least one in each case going to extra points.

Fierce and fiery women’s doubles

Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei may have had a head-to-head record of 5-2 against Christinna Pederson / Kamilla Rytter Juhl going into Saturday’s semi-finals, but they had lost to the Danish pair on the biggest of stages, in London Olympic Games.  It was, of course, the Chinese loss in group play in London that sparked the string of match-throwing that so marred that competition.

However, although for the first time in two years, Tian/Zhao made it through the group round robin undefeated, it was in the knockout round this time that they faced the fired up Danes and they were not 100% prepared.

In this match, the Danes had some edge on the skills of serve and return, and their first three strokes and explosive attacking were a real threat to their opponents.  Tian/Zhao’s attacking was not as powerful as their team-mates Wang/Yu, but their placement of attacking and solid defence were still quite impressive and this was a very even match, the pair who could stand up to the pressure on crucial points was bound to win, and thus the two pair took one game for each and forced to rubber.

All the spectators cheered for the Chinese pair in the deciding game, but Tian/Zhao seemed to run out of gas and allowed the Danes to lead all the way and reach match point first at 20-17.  Tian/Zhao managed to save 3 points and equalize the score, but they were unable to convert on their own two match point opportunities and finally they made mistakes on return of serve that cost them the match.

The Danes were ecstatic after the match, cheering with joy all the way to the interview area.

“You can see that we are very, very happy about this win,” said Rytter Juhl.  “It was a fantastic match.  I would have been so sad if we had given it away when we had a 20-17 lead, so I’m very happy we’ve got the deciding point.”

“We know them very well and they are so strong and Olympic champions, so we knew we had to play very well,” added Pedersen.  “It is good for us to have won today.  We are very excited about being in the final tomorrow.  The key was at the net, especially because we are all good at the net from mixed doubles.”

What a match!!

Nobody could have imagined that China’s Hong Wei / Shen Ye – until so recently a mere backup pair on the world’s strongest badminton team – could have played so well today and given the Olympic silver medallists so much trouble.

The Danes may have been fully expecting to cruise into their fourth straight final at the Superseries Finals but they found Hong/Shen on fire today.  The Chinese attacks were sharp and powerful, and they basically had the chance to win if they could be more patient on crucial points.

In the first game, they were leading all the way, and even earned 4 game points, but the Danes showed their experience, equalized the score rapidly with their exquisite serve and return and finally took the match in 26-24.

The play was so fast and explosive, there were so many long rallies and breathtaking moments, and all the spectators in the stands were cheering for the performances on both sides.  The second game was almost a repeat of the first game, but this time Hong/ Shen became more tough and got the game.

In the third game, Shen had some stamina problems and he and Hong lost their concentration at the net, making several unforced errors, which finally cost them the game.

“The shuttles used today were slow, and the stadium is big, so relatively the battle is intense, and our opponents are runners-up of the Olympic Games after all.  We had a chance today but we failed to take the opportunity,” said Shen Ye afterward.

“We are still young while our opponents are more experienced.  We are in the position to challenge them.  We had that chance today but failed due to lack of experience at crucial points,” added Hong Wei.

In the other men’s doubles semi-final, Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng failed to make it a repeat of the London Olympic final when they retired midway through the first game due to a lower back injury to Cai.

Cai went for medical treatment directly and his partner told reporters: “Cai Yun has had no rest since the China Open.  After the Hong Kong Open, he want Dongguan club to play in the A-level league.  Originally, we did not expect to qualify for these Superseries Finals.

“In fact, both of us have been dealing with lower back injuries but the beds in the hotel are too soft, so we have to sleep on the floor.  Just now, when he smashed on the court, he suddenly contorted his waist and he could not move.”

Interestingly, the Japanese pair did not expect to advance to the final at all, and confessed they had already booked their flight back to Japan on the morning of the 16th!

Li Xuerui takes a shot at another major

Kicking off the evening session was the women’s singles battle between Li Xuerui and Saina Nehwal.  Li, who has already taken the coveted All England title along with the Olympic gold medal this year, was playing for a chance at the big payoff from the Superseries Finals.

Saina played well at the beginning and led most of the way.  When the first game score reached 19-13, everybody believed she would take the game easily.  But suddenly Saina started to make mistakes, while the Olympic Champion woke up, enhanced her attacking with powerful drives in the middle of the court and equalized the score. Saina did not seem patient enough at crucial points and lost the game 20-22 unfortunately.

In the second game, Li seemed unaccustomed to the wind and made many unforced errors, especially long and wide shots, Saina took the game easily in 21-7.  In the deciding game, both players tried their best and the score alternated up until interval.

But then Saina seemed to have stamina problems and could not match Li’s speed, made several errors and soon lost the game, her disappintment such that she refused to be interviewed after the match.

Du does it

Denmark’s attempt to send a fourth finalist through to Sunday was blocked by China’s 24-year-old Du Pengyu.  Du beat Hans-Kristian Vittinghus 21-23, 21-8, 21-13 to earn a shot at the men’s singles title, which he will contest with 2011 runner-up Chen Long.

When the men’s singles match finished, it was already 1:00 am Sunday morning, but more than 500 spectators had insisted on staying to watch the end of the day’s matches.

Click here for complete semi-final results

About Ying Yang