SUDIRMAN CUP 2015 QF – China & Korea rush into the semis

China proved once again too strong , sweeping away their German opponents in 6 straight games, with a remarkable first appearance by Zhang Nan.  On the neighbouring court, Korea completely […]

China proved once again too strong , sweeping away their German opponents in 6 straight games, with a remarkable first appearance by Zhang Nan.  On the neighbouring court, Korea completely restored their image and seeded status by sending off Malaysia in an almost flawless parade from the Korean team.

By Tarek Hafi. Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live)

China offered what they had best to stun a feverish German team, which was not in any way able to shake the supra giant and arch favourite for a tenth title at the .  One man particularly shone throughout this encounter: Zhang Nan was finally lined-up in this competition, his absence hitherto causing much talk among aficionados who feared an injury.  Nevertheless, the golden Beijing boy showed he became probably the most crucial component of this multi-crowned China team.

After a very short attempt with Liu Cheng, Zhao Yunlei found herself back in the zone with Zhang Nan (pictured) against Michael Fuchs and Birgit Michels.  It was a one-way match in which the Chinese severely punished the former world number six.  Playing their usual outstanding game, Zhao Yunlei seemed gifted with a clairvoyant abilities, anticipating every shots at the net, leading to a 21-9, 21-11 win.

The greatest of all, Lin Dan, was second to play, a delight to his home crowd, which filled the Nissan Sports Centre with vociferous support.  Despite a good response from former European Champion Marc Zwiebler, Lin Dan appeared to have all the answers to conclude on the same positive note as a few days ago during the group stage matches.

Now, back into the world top 5, Lin Dan (pictured) showed the necessary motivation and helped his country earn the second point with a 21-12, 21-15 victory.

With Johannes Schoettler out due to an injury sustained in the early stages of the tournament, Germany placed Peter Kaesbauer – more of a mixed doubles specialist – to join Michael Fuchs against the imposing Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan.  Zhang Nan and Michael Fuchs were quickly back on court after a mere one-match rest but showed no sign of fatigue and instead emerged as fierce combatants.

Fuchs, accustomed to these high quality matches, couldn’t back up his partner and the perfect play offered by China’s Zhang Nan and Fu Haifeng, gave the Chinese the match 21-15, 21-17, allowing the home team to gain their expected ticket to the semis.

Payback time

The other main event of the day saw another repeat of the group stages with Malaysia, now under the living legend Morten Frost, fighting once more against Korea.  The second seed, Korea, couldn’t be more revolted with their loss in the opening day.  However, they showed up this time with a relatively new line-up and a whole new tactic to disarm the Malaysian team.

First on stage, world number ones Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured) relished their sweet vengeance over Goh V. Shem and Tan Wee Kiong.  Looking much more solid and less burdened in a way, the Korean stars exhibited impressive alternating tactics.  Excelling in all parts, they grabbed the critical first point with a 21-18, 21-16 win.

Second in line, world number seven Sung Ji Hyun had a much tougher time shaking off Malaysia’s women’s singles heiress Tee Jing Yi than she had with the youngster Lim on Sunday.  The twenty-four year-old Penang lady, however, couldn’t overcome the much more experienced and skilled Sung.  The Korean, despite being pushed by her opponent, never seemed dangerously threatened and rushed towards a second point for the peninsula, 21-17, 21-12.

It was Lee Chong Wei‘s turn to correct Malaysia’s fate in this encounter.  He had literally swept both of his opponents since his comeback at the Sudirman Cup and the Malaysian superstar did the same with Son Wan Ho (pictured bottom), despite his new opponent being a top five resident.  The Korean found no answers, and had no choice but to concede the match in straight games.

Another re-match took place in the women’s doubles, pitting the newly formed pair of Jang Ye Na / Jung Kyun Eun against Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei (pictured) for the second time in five days.  Once again, the Koreans come out winners, although the Malaysians presented a huge fight, this time grabbing the first game by the slight margin of 23-21.

Still, the mental awareness developed by the two South Korean ladies proved to be too hard to attain for the Malaysians, who were pressured to give up the next two games 16-21, 11-21.  That was the win which granted for the Korean team a ticket to the semi-finals where they will be set to meet either Denmark or Japan.  China, meanwhile, awaits the winner between Indonesia and Chinese Taipei for the other semi-final.

Round-robin rounds up

On the adjacent courts, the Philippines, as expected, left no chance to Nigeria, keeping the top spot of Level 4 Group A.  On the other hand, in the Level 3 Group B, Vietnam was hardly pushed by Australia, with the latter having good doubles while Vietnam was highly betting on their singles.  Vu Thi Trang came through against top Oceania player Joy Lai (pictured).  However, the Vietnamese men’s doubles pair, Dao Manh Thang and Le Ha Ah, came to rescue their nation, allowing the team to end up with a 3-2 victory.

Former top Swiss player Jeanine Cicognini, now Italian, probably felt heavy at heart playing Switzerland, however, her former team-mate Sabrina Jaquet played her best to completely dominate the match 21-9, 21-4, helping Switzerland earn a short victory 3-2.  Thursday saw the end of the group stage for Levels 3 and 4, as well as the final matches in Level 2 except for the battle for the top, which will be played today between Hong Kong and the Netherlands.

Click here for complete Thursday results

About Tarek Hafi