SINGAPORE OPEN 2016 SF – Sony’s back for more Singapore bling

Sony Dwi Kuncoro beat none other than Lin Dan to stay in the hunt for his first Superseries title since the last time he won the Singapore Open, in 2010. […]

Sony Dwi Kuncoro beat none other than Lin Dan to stay in the hunt for his first title since the last time he won the , in 2010.

By Seria Rusli, live in Singapore, and Don Hearn
Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon is looking for her third consecutive Superseries title and is the favourite to win.  But in the men’s event, the first singles player ever to win three in a row comes at this 2016 Singapore Open from a whole different career context.

Way back in 2008, Sony Dwi Kuncoro (pictured above) won the Indonesia and Japan Opens and the China Masters back-to-back.  Of course, with a 3-month gap and the Beijing Olympics separating the first two in the streak, it is very different from what Ratchanok is attempting this weekend but nonetheless, Sony was the first singles player to accomplish it.

His career has been something of a roller-coaster since, as he won his last Superseries here in Singapore nearly six years ago.  He has been to a couple of finals since but he dropped out of the top ten in early 2014.

None of that seemed to matter on Saturday, as he took his semi-final in three games from the great Lin Dan (pictured above).

Sony’s opponent in the final will be Korea’s Son Wan Ho (pictured).  He and mixed doubles pair Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na will both be playing on Sunday in the hopes of winning Korea’s first Singapore Open title, in any discipline, since 2003.

“I tried to do long rallies rather than fast, straight kills. I tried to be more patient so that my opponent would get impatient and make more mistakes,” said Son Wan Ho after beating Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long.

“Although I do not know who I’m going to play against, I will do my best with my own style. I will also try not to think about winning so I will make fewer mistakes.  It is an emotional ride for me but unlike my opponents, I will stay calm.”

The Singapore Open shall remain one of only two Superseries titles that Lee Yong Dae has never won.  He and Yoo Yeon Seong went down in two close games to Zhang Nan and Fu Haifeng.

Like Korea, Indonesia will have two chances at glory on Sunday.  Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari (pictured) exacted some payback from Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan, to whom they had lost last week in Malaysia.

“We just don’t want to lose and keep the fighting spirit on till the end,” said Greysia.  “We are really thankful that we made it today. We just really controlled ourselves on the court. Our physical and technical skill has also improved in this tournament. I think we have learned a lot through our mistakes over the past few weeks.

“For the final, we have nothing to lose but we don’t want to lose. We don’t want to keep so much pressure to ourselves. We want to enjoy the game tomorrow and want to keep the fire within ourselves.

“The difference between today’s and the previous match was my calmness and understanding its effect on my partner – that I am the playmaker and Nitya is the finisher. Hence I need to be calm first so that my partner can play well as well. For the physical aspect and energy, it is already there – it’s just a matter of the match.”

“From the beginning, we did not want to rush,” added Maheswari.  “Even when we wanted to turn the game around to be the ones attacking, we did not want to rush and controlled our game so that we were not affected by their game speed as they are quite similar to China in that they use a lot of power. We controlled ourselves in the beginning as not to follow their style.”

The final will be a repeat of the Asian Games gold medal match.  Japan’s top pair survived an injury to Misaki Matsutomo late in the third game and she and Ayaka Takahashi (pictured) held on to beat the defending World Champions Tian/Zhao.

One first final and a possible first triple

Japan’s other semi-finalists had contrasting fortunes on Saturday.  On one hand, Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (pictured below) pulled off yet another upset.  This time, they beat China’s young world #13 pair Li/Liu and it just happened to put them in a Superseries final for the first time in her career.

Prior to that, Akane Yamaguchi was unable to capitalize on her momentum from beating the reigning World Champion on Friday and instead, she had to yield to the drive by Ratchanok Intanon (pictured right) drive for an even more impressive first.

“I had to fully prepare for today as I knew she beat Marin yesterday,” said Ratchanok after beating Yamaguchi 21-12, 22-20.  “I know that she has a good mentor and she was able to come back even though I was leading at times.

“I also need to control myself and try to minimize any mistakes because the points I gave her were mistakes near the net.

Ratchanok is now one victory away from a third Superseries title in three weeks.  Li Xuerui was the last women’s singles shuttler to do that in 3 back-to-back Superseries events, back in late 2012, but as this is only the second time that 3 such events have been in consecutive weeks on the calendar, the young Thai will have a first all her own if she can win on Sunday.  The only other time there was a 3-week Superseries string, it was Lee/Yoo in men’s doubles who won the concentrated triple.

On the prospect of winning three in a row, Intanon said, “Actually, with the support from the Thailand fans, I’m confident but I’m also scared of the competition and that my fitness level will decrease. I try to take care of myself and drink protein after every game as it’s good for my body.

For tomorrow, I will play with Sun Yu. I beat her last time in the Thailand Masters but it was a tough match.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow but I will try to relax. The outcome doesn’t really matter but of course, if I can win, it’ll be great so my ranking can improve my ranking to number one.  I try to challenge myself and tell myself I can do it.

Finals line-up
WS:  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) [3] vs. Sun Yu (CHN)
XD:  Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) [3] vs. Xu Chen / Ma Jin (CHN) [4]
WD:  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [1] vs. Nitya Krishinda Maheswari / Greysia Polii (INA) [2]
MS:  Son Wan Ho (KOR) vs. Sony Dwi Kuncoro (INA)
MD:  Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan (CHN) [4] vs. Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN)

Click here for complete semi-final 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 @