CHINA OPEN 2016 SF – Marcus and Kevin squeeze into 3rd final

Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo were among the many to squeak past their semi-final opponents at the China Open and they will appear in their 3rd Superseries final […]

Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo were among the many to squeak past their semi-final opponents at the and they will appear in their 3rd final of the year.

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

A few patterns were reinforced in the first few matches on semi-finals day at the 2015 China Open Superseries Premier in Fuzhou.  While team China kept alive the hope that their 20-year dominance of their home women’s doubles title would continue, they were also assured that the 15-year men’s doubles title drought for home shuttlers would continue.

Chai Biao and Hong Wei (pictured right) were the top seeds for this event in men’s doubles.  Unfortunately, the track record even for Chinese top seeds is not good.  After all, the 15-year cold spell encompasses the entire heyday of Cai/Fu, while they were winning almost every other major title.

Chai and Hong looked to be on track to taking their first title at home when they had the first game in hand and opened up a 17-12 lead in the second against Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (pictured above).  The Indonesians struck back hard, however, and although it took them 7 game points, they forced the decider and made another late surge to take that, too.

Meanwhile, Zhang Nan’s hopes of a doubles double were dashed when he and Liu Cheng were unable to make it past two-time winners Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen.  The Danes blew a 3-point lead late in the opening game but held on and did not let it happen in the second game.

Boe/Mogensen are battling not only to get back the China Open title.  They are also in the hunt for a spot in the Superseries Finals in Dubai.  If they do not win in Fuzhou, then they will basically have to reach the Hong Kong Open final in order to even have a hope of catching their compatriots in the Dubai race.

Breaking the 25-year lock

The women’s doubles, in contrast, has belonged to home pairs for 25 years.  The last time a non-Chinese pair won the China Open was in 1991, when Korea was testing out pairs for the Barcelona Olympics and took the biggest titles with five different combinations.

But while Korean pairs were a regular sight in China Open finals in the 1990s, on Saturday in Fuzhou, Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee (pictured) became the first from the peninsula to play a Sunday match at the China Open since 1996.  Chang and Lee booked a spot in their third Superseries by beating the Luo twins in straight games, though on their fourth match point.

Luo Ying and Luo Yu began this calendar year ranked #1 in the world but they have managed only one title in 2016, at the China Masters Grand Prix Gold, though they have been in the finals of both a Superseries and a Grand Prix Gold event.  Chang/Lee, on the other hand, will be glad to have another shot in a final, as they have lost two this year, both a Grand Prix Gold and a Superseries.

Like in their last finals appearance, at the recent French Open, the Koreans’ opponents will be a young Chinese pair.  This time, it will be Huang Dongping and Li Yinhui (pictured) looking to beat Chang/Lee to take their own career first Superseries title.  Huang and Li were not put off by the status of Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl as Olympic silver medallists and they sent the Europeans packing for Hong Kong in two straight games.

Li for the doubles double

Again like in France, there will be a 19-year-old from China looking for a doubles double.  Unlike her compatriot Chen Qingchen, Li Yinhui will be hoping for the first Superseries title of her career in both women’s and mixed doubles.  In fact, this will be the first Superseries final in both disciplines for the Chinese teenager.

In one of the last matches of the day, Li and Zhang Nan (pictured) saw off the last top seeds of the tournament.  Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na were able to take the second game handily but couldn’t stay close in their decider and will have to sit out proceedings on Sunday after contesting 5 of the last 7 Superseries finals.

Korean youngsters Choi Sol Gyu and Chae Yoo Jung led at the intervals of both games against Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir (pictured).  However, the Olympic gold medallists imposed their will on the second half of each game.  The Koreans managed to surge ahead late in the second but were unable to convert any of their 3 game points and the Indonesian pair took it 25-23.

Towering underdogs fight through

The women’s singles semi-finals were both won by the underdog, on paper.  Olympic silver medallist Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (pictured below) was completely outclassed in her first game by Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun.  The second game was much closer but Sung took the chances with her precision net play and ended up sitting pretty with three match points at 20-17.

Sindhu erased all three and managed to extend the match to a decider but Sung refused to just lie down.  This time, it was the Indian with the late surge and Sung could only save one match point before bowing and letting the Indian make her way to the final.

Tai Tzu Ying had tried the same type of reversal in her second game but was unable to do more than push Sun Yu (pictured bottom) to extra points as she ceded it 21-23 to the tall Chinese world #9.

The men’s singles semis went according to seed although Jan Jorgensen played a see-saw match against unseeded Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin.  The Malaysian opened up a 17-10 lead in the opening game and Jorgensen had to claw his way back, then save four game points before taking his one-game lead.

Iskandar stayed close in the second and only had to save one match point before he took the game and sent the match to a decider.  The third game was very one-sided, though, and it is Jorgensen who will contest the final against three-time winner Chen Long.

Finals line-up
WD:  Chang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR) [6] vs. Huang Dongping / Li Yinhui (CHN)
WS:  Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (IND) [7] vs. Sun Yu (CHN) [8]
MD:  Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) [4] vs. Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) [7]
MS:  Chen Long (CHN) [2] vs. Jan O Jorgensen (DEN) [4]
XD:  Tontowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir (INA) [2] vs. Zhang Nan / Li Yinhui (CHN)

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 @