UNIVERSIADE SF – Russian #1 to face World #1 for gold

Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov take on the mighty Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae for men’s doubles gold at the Kazan Universiade. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto […]

men's doubles finalists (from left) Vladimir Ivanov / Ivan Sozonov (RUS), Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae (KOR)

Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov take on the mighty Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae for men’s doubles gold at the Kazan Universiade.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

The line-up for the badminton semi-finals at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan Russia on Wednesday was star-studded, with all but 2 of the ten matches featuring at least one current top ten player.  The highlight for home fans, though, was the success of current world #13 Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov in reaching the gold medal final.

It certainly wasn’t easy for the Russians.  They were up against current world #5 Kim Ki Jung, who won two golds at last year’s World Badminton Championships, and who had already beaten down Ivanov and Nina Vislova in a hard-fought mixed doubles semi-final earlier in the evening.

Perhaps fortunately for the Russians, Kim was in a scratch partnership with singles specialist Hong Ji Hoon but it still took the big men three games to finally book their spot in the gold medal match.  There they will face world #1 Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae, who have yet to lose a game at this Universiade.  The Koreans beat Malaysia’s Loh Wei Sheng / Jagdish Singh to advance.

Kim vs. Tian x 2

Korea is actually vying for four more golds to add to the one they already have for the mixed team event.  Two of those, however, will be uphill battles.  Kim So Young is taking over from her mixed doubles partner the role of double gold medal hopeful.  However, when Kim Ki Jung did it in November, he had home court advantage and he had a former world #1 as a partner, whereas Kim So Young (pictured above) has one, Tian Qing, as her opponent in both gold medal finals.

Tian Qing’s win in mixed was just as tough as Kim’s.  Although she and former World Junior Champion Liu Cheng did not have opponents with home court advantage, they did have to go against Chinese Taipei’s Chen Hung Ling / Wang Pei Rong, who had beaten them in the mixed team semi-final.  Still, the Chinese weathered a second game loss to finish ahead 21-15, 12-21, 21-17.

In the women’s doubles, Jang/Kim had a relatively easy time with Malaysian youngsters Chow Mei Kuan / Lee Meng Yean but two-time World Junior Champions Lee So Hee / Shin Seung Chan were unable to make it past Luo/Tian to set up an all-Korean final.  Lee/Shin are poised to break into the world’s top 10 any day now and were the top seeds in Kazan but Tian’s experience was just too much for them.

Strong field whittled down to top seeds

The women’s singles began with the most star players and by the quarter-final stage, there were 3 Superseries winners, one Superseries finalist, and one Grand Prix Gold winner among the 8 remaining contestants.  What’s more, four of the six quarter- and semi-final matches on Wednesday went to three games.

Top seed and world #6 Sung Ji Hyun was tasked with taking care of most of the Chinese contingent.  Having already beaten 2010 Asian Junior Champion Suo Di in the second round, Sung then dispatched Malaysia Open runner-up Yao Xue in three games to book her spot in the gold medal match.

In the bottom half, things heated up in the quarter-finals when Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (pictured) of Thailand, the former world #8 who has slipped to #19 of late, faced Macau Open champion Sun Yu.  Porntip has had some impressive wins in the past year but has not made a final since Vietnam last summer.  She dominated her deciding game against the Chinese giant Sun, however, to book a semi-final date with Tai Tzu-Ying.

Tai Tzu-Ying (pictured above) would have been elated at Porntip’s win, however, as she had lost three times to Sun Yu in the past year, including in the mixed team semi-final in Kazan.  Tai was also 0-3 against Porntip but all three losses were long before she had achieved the form that saw her win her two Superseries titles.

Tai took the first game and then the two shuttlers traded one-sided games, thus affording the second seed passage to the gold medal round against Sung Ji Hyun, whom she beat last autumn en route to her first Superseries title.

Long time, no play

In the men’s singles final, SEA Games silver medallist Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand will face Gao Huan (pictured) for the first time since in nearly 5 years.  Tanongsak beat his Chinese challenger in their only other encounter, in the mixed team competition of the 2008 World Junior Championships.

To reach the final, Tanongsak had to dispose of the other Chinese contender, Australian Open champion Tian Houwei, along with Malaysia’s Zainuddin Iskandar Zulkarnain.  Incidentally, those two were the finalists in both the World and Asian Junior Championships of 2009.

Gao, whose final at last autumn’s Macau Open was his first since the World Juniors in 2008, made quick work of top-seeded Chou Tien-Chen of Chinese Taipei to book his spot in the gold medal match.

Gold medal matches
XD: Kim Ki Jung / Kim So Young (KOR) [3/4] vs. Liu Cheng / Tian Qing (CHN) [5/8]
WS: Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) [1] vs. Tai Tzu-Ying (TPE) [2]
MS: Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (THA) [2] vs. Gao Huan (CHN) [3/4]
WD: Luo Yu / Tian Qing (CHN) [5/8] vs. Jang Ye Na / Kim So Young (KOR)
MD: Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae (KOR) [1] vs. Vladimir Ivanov / Ivan Sozonov (RUS) [2]

Click here for complete Wednesday results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net