CHINA OPEN 2013 SF – Lee Yong Dae to meet nemesis

Men’s doubles provided most of the thrills on semi-finals day at the Victor China Open Superseries Premier as Lee Yong Dae earned passage to his fifth men’s doubles final, where […]

Men’s doubles provided most of the thrills on semi-finals day at the Victor Premier as Lee Yong Dae earned passage to his fifth men’s doubles final, where the surprise opponents are Malaysia’s Tan Wee Kiong and one of the few men with a career winning record against Lee: Hoon Thien How.

By Kira Rin.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

The China Open semi-finals saw a number of one-sided matches, as if the participants were exhausted from a tiring quarters yesterday.  The day was again abbreviated as a Friday ankle injury to Zhao Yunlei resulted  in walkovers in both mixed and women’s doubles, where Ma Jin’s withdrawal had done the same to the quarter-final line-up.

The exceptions to the rule of one-sided contests were the two men’s doubles semi-finals.  In the first, which was the first match on court, it was a battle of East Asia, where both Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong and Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa started off with strong salvos of smashes.  In one such high paced rally, Endo rushed too far towards the side and ended up ripping the matt next to the court, forcing the referee to make repairs before the match could be continued.

Neither side would budge an inch within the high speed and high pressure game.  Both the power players Yoo and Endo led with smashes from the backcourt while their speedier partners sought to maintain frontcourt dominance.  Often within this power game, a shot would be struck too hard and the shuttle flew long.

With points and games traded, it soon became a game of who could keep attacking the longest.  Yoo steadily applied pressure, constantly smashing the shuttle downwards.  Under such offensive pressure, Endo/Hayakawa defense crumbled as the Koreans took the deciding game with a strong finishing run.

With an Olympic champion forming half of China’s only remaining men’s doubles pair and the other half a strong and young but experienced doubles player, the home team did prove a formidable challenge for Malaysia’s Hoon Thien How and Tan Wee Kiong.  The Malaysians, however, were unfazed and brought their can-do attitude to the match, with Tan Wee Kiong yet again repeating his mid-rally racquet swapping.

Playing against a pair which had been just formed this year, Hoon focused on attempting to break the partnership between the pair, often targeting a single person during rallies.  While Cai Yun was the cooler person on the Chinese side, keeping calm to continue the rallies, Chai Biao would get heated under such targeting and committed errors.  Combined with the Malaysian’s well-timed switchings of smashing roles to keep their smashes fast and furious, there was little Cai and Chai could do to even put up any resistance at all and the men’s doubles title once again eludes China for a twelfth year running.

Hoon and Tan thus finally get a chance to prove themselves in a Superseries final and how fitting that they get to do it against Lee Yong Dae.   Hoon is the only player – apart from former World and Olympic champions Kido and Setiawan – with a career winning record in men’s doubles against three-time champion Lee but so far, the Malaysian has specialized in early round upsets over the Korean star.  The last time the two met in a final was at the World Junior Championships in 2004.

World Champions through

For all their efforts to get into the semi finals, the Korean pair of Kim Ki Jung and Kim So Young could not find anything in the books to challenge the Indonesians Tontowi Ahmad and Lilyana Natsir.  Throughout the whole match, Tontowi kept on the offensive pressure and carefully read the positions to hit the shuttle to open gaps.

The other World Champions still on track in the event, Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang, benefited from a walkover from their injured team-mate Zhao Yunlei, as did Denmark’s Fischer Nielsen/Pedersen in mixed.  The remaining doubles match was a blowout by Bao Yixin and Zhong Qianxin over Thailand’s Kunchala Voravichitchaikul / Duanganong Aroonkesorn.  Bao now has a chance to win her 5th Superseries title of the year with a fourth partner!

Singles all for China

Perhaps tired from the stress of playing another Wang the night before, Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand could hardly raise a challenge to Wang Shixian.  Wang’s constant rallying paid off as Porntip’s stamina reserves could not keep up to the shuttle.  The Thai was left to retire for the night with only 18 points total from the match, gained from the occasional opportune smash or mistakes.  Li Xuerui will be Wang’s opponent as she made it past Han Li in straight games.

Facing his second Malaysian opponent of the week, Chen Long still took extra precautions in a careful game style, using his reach to gradually turn rallies into his favour.  Also wary of what had happened to Daren last night, Chong Wei Feng also responded with a careful and calculated style, hitting sharp cross-court smashes for points.  Both parties kept tabs on each other, exchanging points until an unlucky misjudgement cost Wei Feng the first game.

Starting with a few cross-court smashes going out of bounds, Chong Wei Feng found his accuracy slowly diminishing.  Even so, that still did not stop him from pulling a point blank net kill defense, at the daringness of which even Chen Long gave his approval.  But this still wasn’t enough to save his game from dismal accuracy, as Chong conceded many a point from hitting the net or sending a shuttle out of bounds.  He finally capitulated after 47 minutes in total on court, gathering only 7 points in the second game.

Wang Zhengming had a much harder time booking his place in the finals.  Kento Momota, only the second teenager ever to reach a Superseries men’s singles semi-final, put up stiff resistance with his high speed pace and quick follow-through on attacks.  Wang was able to get away with a luckily accurate smash for the first game, but soon succumbed to Kento’s smashes to his forehand side.  Kento remained in full control of the second game, pushing Wang to a corner before smashing to the sidelines.

With the third game holding the balance of the match, Wang went full out on the attack, jump smashing at every available opportunity.  Such seemingly unlimited jumping stamina put a shock into Kento, as he struggled to maintain his defense.  Ultimately, Wang booked his appointment to the finals with the second biggest margin in his final game.

Finals line-up
MD: Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) vs. Hoon Thien How / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS)
WS: Li Xuerui  (CHN) [1] vs. Wang Shixian (CHN) [7]
WD: Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) [1] vs. Bao Yixin / Zhong Qianxin (CHN) [8]
MS: Chen Long (CHN) [2] vs. Wang Zhengming(CHN)
XD: Tontowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA) [2] vs. Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) [4]

Click here for complete semi-final results

About Kira Rin