DENMARK OPEN 2016 SF – Thais take two of three

On Sunday at the Denmark Open, Team Thailand will try for two titles as Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and Nipitphon Puangpuapech each made it through to the first Superseries final of his […]

On Sunday at the , Team Thailand will try for two titles as Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and Nipitphon Puangpuapech each made it through to the first final of his career.

By Elm Vandevorst.  Photos: Arthur Van der Velde and Yohan Nonotte / Badmintonphoto (live)

Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (pictured) will likely remember October 2016 forever.  In the form of his life, the Thai shuttler is ready to conquer his first ever Superseries title, just two weeks after winning Grand Prix Gold on home soil.

Saensomboonsuk, who just turned 26, is playing the best badminton of his career.  Just 7 months ago, he was trounced by his opponent Brice Leverdez in the qualifications of the All England Open.  But on Saturday in Denmark, he really turned the tide.  In a very convincing manner, Saensomboonsuk only needed 32 minutes to qualify for his first ever final at a Superseries event.

Of course, the Thai first needs to overcome Son Wan Ho, who has a third opportunity this year to gain a major title, after his losses at the Singapore Open and earlier this month in Korea.  In his semi-final, he again had little trouble overcoming his compatriot Lee Hyun Il, beating the 36-year-old 21-14, 21-16.

Like his compatriot Saensomboonsuk, Nipitphon Puangpuapech is gearing up for the first Superseries final of his career.  His partner Bodin Issara (pictured top), who will be playing in his seventh match of the week in Odense after a second round defeat in the mixed doubles, won the India Open four years ago but this will be his first appearance since changing partners.

The Thai twosome hasn’t dropped a game so far and they kept that record intact on Saturday as they needed only two to defeat Indonesia’s Angga Pratama / Ricky Karanda Suwardi for the first time in three attempts.  Tomorrow’s encounter against Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong (pictured) will be a repeat of their first round meeting at the Japan Open one month ago.   That match was one rather easily by the Malaysians but Sunday’s final will see a match between two pairs who are on fire, one technically and the other emotionally.

Thai, Thais, and Tai, too!

Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying (pictured) missed out on a match point in her second game against Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi but she peaked when she needed to in the decider and booked her spot in the final.   With the win, Tai became the only shuttler who has mathematically clinched her spot in the Superseries Finals.  Only she and the five Olympic gold medallists could actually stop playing now and still be assured of qualifying for Dubai.

One more ray of hope, for China or Europe

In stark contrast to the wealth of Thailand seems the Chinese downturn.  With no representatives left in the singles at the semi-final stage, it was up to Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (pictured below) and Lu Kai / Huang Yagiong to determine who would be left on Sunday to defend the honour of their home country.

In an all-Chinese encounter, youngsters Zheng and Chen required two tense games to gain victory 21-19, 22-20.  Their rivals in the final on Sunday will be the last Danish survivors, Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen.  Just as in 2011 and 2013, Pedersen will be standing with a partner as Denmark’s sole hope to hold onto at least one title on home soil.

The Danes are also Europe’s last chance on finals day as all the other Europeans had to accept defeat.  Danish fans would, of course, have been glad to see England’s Chris and Gabrielle Adcock go down, as it was they who were beaten by the Danish mixed pair.

Carolina Marin’s loss was probably the most surprising, although the Olympic and World Champion has suffered from a stomach flu throughout the tournament.  Nevertheless it wasn’t her first defeat against Akane Yamaguchi (pictured bottom) this year.  Also at the Singapore Open Yamaguchi proved she has a tactical plan to beat Marin.

In the semi-finals, the world #10 was still put to the test almost as much as Marin’s unknown challengers earlier in the week.  Despite her illness and the limp visible between points in the deciding game, the Spaniard still managed to erase most of the 6-point lead that Yamaguchi built up late in the game before the Japanese shuttler won it on her fourth match point.

Finals line-up
WD:  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [1] vs. Jung Kyung Eun / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) [2]
MS:  Son Wan Ho (KOR) [6] vs. Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (THA)
XD:  Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) [5] vs. Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN) [8]
MD:  Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) [4] vs. Bodin Issara / Nipitphon Puangpuapech (THA)
WS:  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) [5] vs. Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) [8]

Click here for complete semi-final results

About Elm Vandevorst