A nation expects on finals day as Lee Chong Wei looks to claim his second title of 2012 on home soil after a three-game, 76-minute victory over Chen Long in the final match on semi finals days.
Tago Into Final
Keinchi Tago’s semi final with Chen Jin lasted just 5 points before the Chinese 5th seeded pulled out of the match, allowing the Japanese player a free pass into tomorrow’s final. It will be Tago’s 11th meeting with Lee Chong Wei, having lost the previous 10 and claiming just two games from those matches. Lee Chong Wei will hope to claim his final title on home soil tomorrow, with a nation expecting victory.
Two All-Chinese Finals
Without the big names in the doubles, the Chinese squad have still managed to claim a pair of all-Chinese matches. The first is in the women’s singles where Wang Yihan takes on Wang Xin for the title, with the world number one having a 7-2 advantage in their head to heads to date. The other final comes in the mixed doubles, as the top two pairs in the world battle it out for the 9th time, with the current world champions holding a 6-2 advantage.
The men’s doubles has for the first time in recent history no seeds in the final, with Cho and Shin of Korea taking on Fang and Lee of Chinese Taipei. Cho and Shin defeated Chai and Guo in their semi final whilst Fang and Lee took out Hashimoto and Hirata in their semi final to set up this unlikely final.
Rytter Juhl and Pedersen are the sole European hope on finals day, after defeating Zhong and Yixin to set up a final against the second seeded Ha and Kim of Korea. The 2nd seeds defeating Matsuo and Naito in their semi final to set up the 4th encounter between these two paits, with the Korean’s holding a 3-0 advantage to date.
The European interest ended on semi finals day, but that was not the biggest shock of the day. Wang and Yu’s stunning run came to an end at the hands of Ha and Kim in the women’s doubles as two Koreans have a chance of two titles in Seoul.
First Meeting Of 2012
The two best players in the world meet for the first time this year, with the momentum with Lin Dan with victories in their previous three matchups. Lee Chong Wei has reached the final with the loss of a single game on route. It is their 27th meeting and the perfect start to the Olympic year.
Jiang Yanjiao claimed a famous win over Wang Yihan to boost her Olympic aspirations, her opponent in the final will be Wang Shixian and a victory over the world number 3 would improve her chances of making the Chinese squad even more. The world number 6 also holds a 4-3 head to head record over her team-mate.
China Against Korea In Doubles
Three Chinese pairs will take on three Korean pairs in the doubles finals. Cai and Fu take on Lee and Jung in the men’s doubles final for their 20th meeting in their rivalry, with Lee Yong Dae hoping to claim a 6th Korean Open title. His second chance comes in the mixed doubles as he teams up with Ha Jung Eun to take on the Chinese pairing of Xu and Ma. Ha Jung Eun claimed the biggest upset of the week as her and partner Kim Min Jung stunned the world number pairing of Wang and Yu in the women’s doubles semi finals to set up a match against Tian and Zhao and become the first non-Chinese pair to beat the world number 1 pairing.
The 2009 World Championships runners-up are looking to go one better than last year, Lee Yong Dae missed most of the last 4 months with injury but Lee and Jung are the form partnership going into this months World Championships after a convincing 21-10, 21-16 victory over fellow Korean’s Cho and Kwon, the 6th seeds. The Korean success story continued in the women’s doubles, as Lee Hyo Jung put her injury scare in Macau behind her as she took the title with partner Kim Min Jung, defeating another unseeded Korean pair of Lee and Yoo, winning 21-14, 22-20.
Top seeds Hendra Gunawan and Vita Marissa claimed the mixed doubles title in an all-Indonesian final, taking the title in three tight games against the 5th seeded Ahmad and Natsir and claiming revenge for their two game loss to Ahmad and Natsir in Macau just last week, winning 22-20, 14-21, 22-20. Title number two for Indonesia came in the men’s singles with 3rd seeded Simon Santoso defeating the unseeded Korean Shon Wan Ho in a impressive two game victory to boost his confidence ahead of the World Championships in Paris later this month.
The local support had their own reasons to celebrate as Cheng Shao Chieh took the women’s singles title, defeating 3rd seeded Bae Sueng Hee of Korea. Cheng defeated the 8th, 4th and 3rd seed to take the title after a 78 minute marathon, winning 21-11, 24-26, 21-17.
This week’s Super Series gives some of the top seeds from last week a chance to redeem themselves but also allows some unlikely winners an opportunity to continue their excellent vein of form. Peter Gade has returned to Denmark to prepare for the World Championships but there is still an excellent turnout of the world’s top players. Lee Chong Wei will hope for a better week than in Singapore as the top seed looks to regain the form that took him to All-England success in March. Peter Gade may not be in the draw, but Taufik Hidayat is a more than acceptable replacement for the Dane as the 2nd seed this week. Last weeks beaten finalist Boonsak Ponsana is also in the draw, seeded 4th and last weeks winner Sony Kuncoro is the 7th seed this week. There is also some young hopefuls in the draw, such as 5th seeded Jan O Jorgensen and 8th seeded Kenichi Tago.
Saina Nehwal has a fantastic chance to repeat the success from last week as she is the top seed and Pi Hongyan, seeded 2 has withdrawn pre-tournament. Zhou Mi has been unable to consistently win at the Super Series level but the 3rd seed is a handful for any player on her day. Eriko Hirose will want to put her first round defeat last week behind her, the Japanese #1 is seeded 4 for the event.
Koo and Tan are the top seeds in the men’s doubles and hope to go a lot further than their second round defeat last week. 2nd seeded Kido and Setiawan will want to go one better than their loss in the final on Sunday in Singapore. Bach and Gunawan of the USA are the 5th seeds this week and will look to build on a solid performance last week in Singapore.
The top two seeds in the mixed doubles are set for a rematch this week as Widianto and Natsir are seeded 1 and Laybourn and Rytter Juhl are the 2nd seeds this week. Lee Hyo Jung continues with her new partner Kim Min Jung and they are seeded 5 for the event. The 6th seeded Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork will want to put their shock first round defeat from last week behind them with a solid performance this week.
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.