WORLDS 2013 QF – Can Cai/Fu make it 5?

China’s men’s doubles standard is again being carried by 4-time World Champions Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng, who are now just two wins away from tying Park Joo Bong’s record. […]

China’s men’s doubles standard is again being carried by 4-time World Champions Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng, who are now just two wins away from tying Park Joo Bong’s record.

By Renee Yang, Badzine Correspondent live in Guangzhou.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng (pictured) who already hold 4 World Championship titles as well as the London Olympic gold medal in hand, are definitely the most successful men’s doubles pair in badminton history. But since the 2012 London Olympics, they have suffered from lower back and knee injuries and have seldom appeared in BWF tournaments, let alone the latter stages.  In fact, they have reached only 3 semi-finals in the last year.

Some badminton fans, and many in the media, have begun to suspect that they might be too old to play. However, today in quarter-finals of the BWF , they beat No. 4 seeds Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa (pictured) in straight games to reach the semi-final for the fourth straight time.

In the first game, the Chinese pair did very well on serve and receive, which helped them to gain many chances of attack, so the match was going at a pace comfortable for them and they raced out to a 10-4 lead. Then the Japanese pair tried to change the pace, avoided lifting the shuttle, played as many drives as they could, and forced errors from their opponents, narrowing the gap to 9-10.

But the Japanese could not maintain the advantage, as Cai/Fu suddenly sped up, dominated in front of the net and let the match come back to their usual path en route to winning the first game 21-13.

After the second game interval, Cai/Fu enhanced their control of the first three shots per rally but the Japanese played lots of drives with varied placement and forced the Chinese pair into several errors. Both pairs were competing for control of the net but the Olympic champions were more experienced at crucial points and after wasting two match points, they finally took the second game 22-20.

During the post-match interview, when asked about his condition, Cai replied that he felt better than yesterday.  Actually he came down with a stomach flu the day he arrived Guangzhou, and needed an IV every day, causing him to miss practice for several days and with it the chance to adapt to the court conditions.  These factors affected his feeling of space and touch to some extent.

When it was pointed out that Tianhe Stadium did not exactly seem to be a lucky place for Cai/Fu, since they had never won any titles in this hall, Fu Haifeng replied: “Yes, we have not won any titles here before, so we had no burden.  We could just concentrate on each match and expect to make a breakthrough.”

Cai/Fu’s next opponents are Indonesian duo Hendra Setiawan / Mohammad Ahsan (pictured), who beat them twice recently, during the Singapore Indonesia Open Superseries events in June.

“Already having lost to them twice, it can be a good thing because we have nothing to lose, no pressure, no burden.  We just need to try our best,” added Fu.

With Liu Xiaolong / Qiu Zihan and Chai Biao / Zhang Nan losing in the third round, there is now only one Chinese men’s doubles pair left in the events. Cai said he’s not surprised about the defeat of their team-mates, then joked: “We have no pressure on us, and now we finally come back to the position as No. 1 Chinese men’s doubles players.”

“Liu/Qiu are in their prime.  They are already mature and also in a rising stage.  One failure does not mean anything.  They are still top players. We also experienced difficult times before but we got through it, and I believe they can also overcome their difficulties,” added Fu.

Cai then finished the interview, showing this pair’s determination: “Our next opponents are both top players, especially Hendra Setiawan, who is also a World and Olympic champion.  We have played with him many times before, so we are familiar with him and him with us. But every match is different, the result depends on our form and performance on the court tomorrow.  We’ll just do our best.”

Click here for complete quarter-final results

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