The Korean squad has a massive interest going into the semi finals on Saturday, with a potential four titles on offer for Korea this week.
The only title that the Korean’s can’t win is the men’s singles, with Tien Minh Nguyen progressing in three games over Shon Wan Ho to end Korean interest in the event. Tommy Sugiarto is Nguyen’s main rival this week and the 6th seed will take on his team mate Sony Dwi Kuncoro in the semi final after the unseeded Indonesian defeated Malaysia’s Muhammed Hafiz Hashim in three games in their quarter final.
Pai Hsiao Ma has been the revelation in the women’s singles, after her defeat of the top seeded Cheng she added another victory over a seeded player in her victory over Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong in three games to reach the semi finals. Sung Ji Hyun is the opponent for the Chinese Taipei woman, with Korea also having interest in the other semi final with the 2nd seeded Bae Youn Joo who takes on Inthanon Ratchnok, seeded 3 this week.
The doubles are dominated by Korea, with three pairs in the last 4 of the men’s doubles including Lee and Jung who are the top seeded as well as the 2nd seeded Ko and Yoo with neither pair losing a game to date this week. Chien and Cheng are sole Chinese Taipei interest in the doubles in the women’s doubles and take on the 3rd seeded Jauhari and Polii of Indonesia. The 2nd seeds of Ha and Kim take on the unseeded Malaysia pair of Hoo and Woon in the other semi final.
The mixed doubles features two unseeded Korean pairs, with Lee and Ha defeating two seeds this week already in their route to the semi final. After defeating the 8th seeded Widianto and Natsir, they went on to beat the 4th seeded Lee and Chien but face their toughest task in the semi final as they take on the top seeded Ahmad and Natsir. The other Korean pair of Ko and Eom have also been in excellent form as they also defeated two seeds to reach the semi final, after their victory over the 2nd seeded Chen and Cheng they beat the 6th seeded Rijal and Susanto in two games to reach the semi finals against Kurniawan ad Bernadeth, seeded 3rd this week.
Whilst Japan have interest in all five events, China’s involvement this week had ended at the quarter final stage.
Taufik Crashes Out
The big news for Europe is that there is another player capable of defeating the world’s elite in Marc Zwiebler. After his run to the semi final at the All-England, big things were expected and his two game victory over the top seeded Taufik Hidayat only confirms his credentials at the highest level. Tien Minh Nguyen is Zwiebler’s opponent in the semi final, after the 3rd seed defeated Bao Chunlai in two games to reach the last 4.
Lower Seeds Surprise
Few expected the defeat of both Lu Lan and Li Xuerui at the quarter final stage, but that is exactly what took place as both Japanese players reached the last 4. Lu Lan lost out to Tai Tzu Ying by the narrowest of margins, with the Chinese Taipei player winning the deciding game 22-20 to set up a semi final against Eriko Hirose. The Japanese 5th seeded defeated Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in two tight games to reach the last 4. Sayaka Sato’s upset over Cheng Shao Chieh hung on a knife edge as both players had match points, before the 8th seeded Sato won the match on her 5th match point to progress 27-25 in the decider.
Japanese and Korean Interest In Doubles
With 2 pairs in the men’s and mixed doubles, as well as 1 in the women’s doubles for the Japanese, they narrowly have the most pairings remaining in the doubles disciplines. Korea are also well represented, mostly down to Lee Yong Dae and Ha Jung Eun who are in 3 of the 5 Korean matches in the doubles tomorrow. Lee and Ko take on their third Japanese pairing in the men’s doubles in the semi finals, with the 6th seeded Kawamae and Sato standing in their way to the final. The second Japanese pairing in the men’s doubles is the 2nd seeded Hashimoto and Hirata, who take on the American pair of Bach and Gunawan who received a walkover to the last 4.
Korea have interest in both the women’s doubles semi finals, with Ha and Kim taking on the Japanese 2nd seeds Maeda and Suetsuna whilst the 8th seeded Jung and Kim take on the top seeded Cheng and Chien of Chinese Taipei. Lee and Ha combine in the mixed doubles to take on another Japanese pairing, this time the 6th seeded Ikeda and Shiota. The other semi final sees the unseeded Japanese pair of Sato and Matsuo take on the 5th seeded pairing of Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei.
The majority of the seeds have progressed safely through the opening two days of the Swiss Open with an excellent field present in Basel even with the loss of it’s Super Series tag for the 2011.
Jan O Jorgensen is the top seed this week and has safely progressed his opening two rounds without the loss of a game to Ville Lang and Christian Lind Thomsen to reach the last 16. His 3rd round opponent is Kazushi Yamada who is in excellent form since his victory over Taufik Hidayat last week in the All Englands. Also in this half of the draw is Park Sung Hwan who has been the pick of the players in his opening two rounds, with a pair of impressive victories for the 4th seed. Viktor Axelsen almost defeated the 16th seeded Hans-Kristian Vittinghus to reach the 3rd round, only for Vittinghus to battle back in the 3rd game to win the all-Danish match up.
Joachim Persson had shown a return to form in recent months but the manner of his defeat to Lee Hyun Il is a worrying sign to the 11th seed as he crashed out tamely in the second round, losing 21-10, 21-9 in just 21 minutes. 2nd seed Simon Santoso has been nothing but impressive in reaching the last 16 with two victory with the loss of just 42 points to date. Spain’s Pablo Abian is the pick of the unseeded Europeans left in the draw with a pair of good victories taking him to the last 16 where he will play Muhammad Hashim, the 9th seeded Malaysian.
Saina Nehwal didn’t have to wait long to get another shot to defeat Eriko Hirose as the pair meet in the 3rd round this week, with both players coming through their opening matches in two games. Juliane Schenk is Newhal’s main rival in the other half of the draw and has a tough second round match against Bae Sueng Hee of Korea. Ella Diehl is the biggest casualty of the opening round, with the 5th seed losing to Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying 21-9, 21-19. There is another Spanish story this week, this time with the European junior champion Carolina Marin who has progressed through qualifying and has reached the second round with a two game win over Nicole Grether.
Boe and Mogensen have continued in the form that won them their first All England title to set up a second round match against Bosch and Ridder of Holland in the second round. The strength of the men’s doubles draw is very high, with Lee and Jung also playing this week and progressing to the second round with a three game win over Endo and Hayakawa of Japan. Ko and Yoo of Korea are the second seeds this week and are into the last 16 after winning their all-Korean first round match against Kim and Kim.
Top seeded Cheng and Chien are hoping that the lack of Chinese pairings in the women’s doubles will improve their chances of success in Basel this week and have started with a two game victory in their opening round to set up a 2nd round match against Japan’s Misaki and Takahashi. The 2nd seeds this week are Jauhari and Polii who take on England’s White and Wallwork in the second round. The European challengers this week will be the 5th seeded Rytter Juhl and Pedersen, who take on Wang and Wang of America after their opening round triumph.
Lee Yong Dae is partnered up with a new female this week as the Korean squad try to find their best partnerships ahead of the Olympic qualification for London, Ha Jung Eun is partnering Lee Yong Dae this week and the 8th seeds start has been impressive, winning 21-10, 21-8 in their opening round match to set up a second round match against Valiyaveetil and Gutta of India. Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei are the top seeds this week and take on the Japanese pair of Ikeda and Shiota in round 2 after both won their opening round matches in two games. The main rival from the bottom half comes in the form of the 2nd seeded Wallwork and Robertson of England who defeated Kazuno and Takahashi in their opening round match to progress into the last 16.
Swiss Open Grand Prix
Ten years of Chinese success ended in a stunning upset to challenge the Chinese women’s dominance as a young Chinese squad humbled by a resilient Korean team.
The 21-year old world #1 Wang Yihan had been tested previously by Saina Nehwal but was expected to defeat Sueng Hee Bae in the opening singles of the Uber Cup Final, but the 26-year old Korean took a shock opening game lead with a 23-21 scoreline. The second game was completely one-sided, for the Sueng Bee Hee and she completed a famous victory over China’s #1 23-21, 22-11 to give Korea a 1-0 lead.
The top Chinese partnership of Ma Jin and Wang Xiaoli was expected to level the scores, but two young players (20 and 21) were against the more experienced Kim Min Jung and Lee Hyo Jung in the first of the doubles matches. The Chinese partnership took the opening game 21-18 and was expected to win the second without trouble, only for the Koreans to bounce back and take the second game 21-12 to send it into a deciding game. The fate of an entire nation seemed to be on a very young partnership and they never came close to winning the deciding game, failing to take a lead in the deciding game and eventually losing out 21-15 to give Korea a 2-0 lead going into the second singles.
Wang Xin had to win her singles to keep China with a chance of retaining their Uber Cup title, she played Korea’s newest starlet Sung Ji Hyun, who had the chance to win the Uber Cup for Korea at just 18. Wang Xin started the better, taking the opening game 21-14 but just like in the opening doubles match, the match was levelled in the second game, with Sung Ji Hyun taking the second game 21-16. Korea were just a game away from the Uber Cup, only for Wang Xin to dominate the final game and to take the match 21-14, 16-21, 21-7.
Korea’s second chance of Uber Cup glory came with the second doubles match, between Du and Yu of China against Lee and Ha of Korea. Du and Yu came in as the clear favourites, winning the All-England this year. The Korean pair however came into the final unbeaten, without dropping a game en route. The match took on a similar theme to the previous two matches, with China taking the opening game (21-19) but like the previous two matches Korea responded by taking the second game (21-14) to set up another deciding game. Lee and Ha were in the ascendancy going into the final game but it ended up being a very tight encounter, with China leading 14-13 in the final game. Lee and Ha strung six points together to take them within 2 points of the Uber Cup, only for China to bring it back to 19-18, then the pair exchanged points before Lee and Ha took the match on their first match point to stun the Chinese pair 19-21, 21-14, 21-19 and take the third match to secure the Uber Cup for Korea.
As we enter the quarter-finals stage of the Li Ning China Masters Super Series China has a firm grip on almost every draw in this tournament. In the men’s singles China has 4 of the remaining players. Hardly surprising is the fact that Peter Gade is the only non Asian player left in the tournament except for France’s Pi Hongyan who first played for China. Gade will play Boonsak Ponsana, and if he’s successful there, Chen Jin. For the most part I’m sure that Gade is happy simply to be on the other side of the draw from Lin Dan. The world champion Lin Dan will play Park Sung Hwan in his quarter-final match.
A big surprise in the women’s singles was the upset of Denmark’s top player Tine Rasmussen to the Chinese qualifier Wang Xin in three close games 17-21, 21-16, 21-14. Wang Xin will now play Pi Hongyan as she enters her first ever Super Series quarter-final. Elsewhere in the draw Hong Kong’s Wang Chen had to retire after losing the first set and trailing 5-0 in the second game, no word on what happened.
The men’s doubles is missing a lot of the world’s top pairs, in fact there were 3 byes in the draw which indicates that there were not enough entries to fill the draw. A terrible thing to see, but certainly a great opportunity for some new teams to earn some very valuable experience and world ranking points as the Super Series are worth a great deal. The safe money at this stage is on a finals encounter between Malaysia’s Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah vs China’s Fu Haifeng and Cai Yun.
The women’s doubles features only two non Chinese pairs, but certainly the favourites Cheng Shu and Zhao Yunlei are unlikely to falter before facing the second seeds Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung. The mixed nationality pairing of Charmaine Reid and Nicole Grether were unable to maintain their momentum as they fell to the second seeds in two quick games. Finally the mixed doubles is almost certainly a lock for China with 7 out of 8 remaining pairs.