CHINA OPEN 2016 QF – 2 semis each for Zhang and Li

New mixed partners Zhang Nan and Li Yinhui each advanced to two semi-finals at the China Open in Fuzhou. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Raphael Sachetat / Badmintonphoto (live) Zhang Nan’s […]

New mixed partners Zhang Nan and Li Yinhui each advanced to two semi-finals at the in Fuzhou.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Raphael Sachetat / Badmintonphoto (live)

Zhang Nan’s famous former partner tried it twice but couldn’t pull it off even after doing it at the Olympics and World Championships.  Now, as he keeps accumulating upsets at the Haixia Olympic Sports Centre in Fuzhou, Zhang Nan is poised to take his shot at a doubles double in the 2016 edition, and so too is his 19-year-old partner Li Yinhui.

For Li, her big upset in women’s doubles was on Thursday, when she and Huang Dongping benefited from some shockingly bad officiating en route to beating world #1 Matsutomo/Takahashi.  In Friday’s quarter-final, Huang and Li had no trouble seeing off Europe’s 3rd-ranked pair Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva.

Zhang Nan’s day got off to a much rockier start.  He and Liu Cheng (pictured right), in their second tournament together, blew three game points against Denmark’s Kim Astrup / Anders Skaarup Rasmussen before taking the opener.  Then in the deciding game, they were 14-19 down before surging to take the last seven points and the match.

The day ended with another Chinese win over Denmark in mixed doubles.  Chai Biao and Hong Wei barely held off Mads Pieler Kolding and Mads Conrad-Petersen to see their way into the semi-finals.

In mixed doubles, Li Yinhui and Zhang Nan (pictured top) were one game down and trailing 9-15 in the second game before they pulled it together and beat Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen in three.

Upsets produce firsts

The other two upsets of the evening in Fuzhou came from mixed doubles and men’s singles.  Choi Sol Gyu and Chae Yoo Jung (pictured) were reunited last summer following the departure of their respective veteran partners from the national team.  The two-time Asian Junior Champions had some respectable Grand Prix results in 2013 and even last year but they have made even bigger breakthroughs this week.

The Koreans’ second round win over Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong was their first against a top ten pair.  They followed it up on Friday with a surprisingly easy straight-game domination of All England winners and world #5 Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto.  Making it to Saturday marks a career first for Choi Sol Gyu, while Chae Yoo Jung did reach one final four during her one-year collaboration with the now-retired Shin Baek Cheol.

The other Korea vs. Indonesia mixed doubles quarter-final went to the favourites, although Yoo Yeon Seong and Chang Ye Na gave the Olympic champions a run for their money.  Natsir and Ahmad will face Choi and Chae next, while world #1 Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na are up against the new pairing of Zhang and Li

The other Superseries semi-final rookie is Malaysia’s Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (pictured right) in the men’s singles.  Unlike the Koreans, his first Grand Prix Gold final came just last winter, at the Malaysia Masters.  On Friday, he faced China’s Qiao Bin, who had beaten the Malaysian en route to his own first Superseries victory, at the Korea Open this autumn.

Unpredictable women’s singles

China’s two remaining hopes in women’s singles had opposite fortunes.  Japan and French Open champion He Bingjiao was narrowly beaten by Olympic silver medallist Pusarla Venkata Sindhu in their first game but the Indian ran away with the second.  Sun Yu needed to pull off a bit of a comeback from 14-17 down to win her first game against Line Kjaersfeldt but she dominated the Dane in the second game.

Tai Tzu Ying won handily in her first game but had to fight to see off Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin in straight games.  The only women’s singles quarter-final to go the full distance was the one won by Sung Ji Hyun (pictured).  Sung saved one game point against Akane Yamaguchi before winning the opener.  Yamaguchi took the second game handily, then had a commanding 14-6 lead in the decider that the Korean needed huge runs of 6 and then 5 points to overcome.

Click here for complete quarter-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 @