JAPAN OPEN 2014 SF – Tai’s tricks have done it again

Tai Tzu Ying again wowed the full house at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium with her flamboyant playing style and magnificent cross-court nets exhausting all the energy out of Liu Xin and […]

Tai Tzu Ying again wowed the full house at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium with her flamboyant playing style and magnificent cross-court nets exhausting all the energy out of Liu Xin and sending Tai into her last finals appearance as a teenager.

By Emzi Regala, Miyuki Komiya and Yosuke Higuchi, Badzine Correspondents live in Tokyo.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

Some trademark tricky net shots from Tai Tzu Ying (pictured), coupled with a more mature approach to the game, were enough to dominate her Chinese opponent Liu Xin in the rubber game.  Not even the strong cheering from the players’ bench could get the Chinese out of her predicament.

“In the first game, I gave away more than 10 points because of my own misses that is why I increased my concentration in the second game so I would not commit the same errors again,” said Tai.

Tai, who turns 20 next Friday, also pointed out that she’s trying to play “as normal as possible” because her opponents are becoming more familiar with her net tricks.

When asked about her prospects of the finals match against the world #1 Li, she smilingly replied, “She always seems to know what kind of shots I’m going to play.  As I’ve never won against her, I am not that confident going into tomorrow’s final.”  Indeed, Tai’s opponent Li Xuerui was introduced to the audience as the “Queen of Queens”, being the world#1, Olympic champion and China’s #1 singles player.

After she successfully appeased the last minute resurgence of her Korean opponent, Sung Ji Hyun, Li expressed satisfaction with the way she is performing and although it is her first time participating in this tournament, she praised the Japanese fans: “It doesn’t matter where you are from, what I like about the Japanese fans is they cheer for you whenever you make a good play, even if you are from another country.”

The competition between the upset orchestrators in the men’s singles was another 3-game thriller.  Jan Jorgensen failed to display the same intensity and focus he had in the quarter-finals against Lin Dan, and in the final stretches of the rubber game, lost a bit of composure.  Jorgensen narrowly missed a shot at the baseline that earned Hu Yun (pictured above) a match point.  Disappointed over the mistake, Jorgensen took his wristband and threw out of the court, did a few gestures against the umpire, enough for the official to show him a yellow card.

“I had no expectation coming into this match but I think he really wanted to win and so that is probably why he put more pressure on himself.  This could have caused him to lose his concentration when I started to take the lead towards the end of the deciding game,” Hu Yun said after the match.

In the mixed doubles event, Europe’s only other semi-finalists had a little more luck.  Michael Fuchs let out a big celebratory “YEAH!” after straight-game victory with partner Birgit Michels (pictured above) after over Asian champions Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah 21-19, 21-10.

The Germans thus inched closer to a new personal milestone, as they are now in their first appearance in a final in nearly four years.  The final obstacle to their maiden title will not be easy though for Fuchs and Michels as they will be up against China’s best, the reigning Olympic Champions and world #1 Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei.

Japan will have its very own milestone as it is assured of a gold medal in the women’s doubles category with both its pairs Matsutomo/Takahashi (pictured) and Kakiiwa/Maeda coming through on top of their respective Korean opponents.  This ensures back-to-back titles for Japan for the first time in the event’s history.

Finals line-up
WS: Li Xuerui (CHN) [1] vs. Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) [6]
WD: Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [3] vs. Reika Kakiiwa / Miyuki Maeda (JPN) [4]
MS: Lee Chong Wei (MAS) [1] vs. Hu Yun (HKG) [8]
MD: Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) [1] vs. Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) [5]
XD: Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) [1] vs. Michael Fuchs / Birgit Michels (GER) [8]

Click here for the complete semi-finals results

Miyuki Komiya

About Miyuki Komiya

Miyuki Komiya is Badzine's correspondent in Japan. She joined the Badzine team in 2008 to provide coverage of the Japanese badminton scene. She has played badminton for more than 30 years and has been a witness to the modern history of Japanese badminton, both watching players become stronger on court and hearing the players comment on their increasing success over the years. Contact her at: miyuki @ badzine.net