In spite of the size of the event the Asian Badminton Championships there are relatively few big stars on show, and even fewer stars remaining heading into the finals stage.
China are guaranteed the title with one veteran and one rookie on deck. Lin Dan had a relatively straight forward win over Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana 22-20, 21-10 to book his spot in the final against the relatively unknown Wang Zhengming. Wang had a more challenging semi-final against Japan’s rising star Kenichi Tago. The young Japanese shuttler wasn’t able to reproduce the magic from his All England run and lost in three close games 21-14, 19-21, 21-16.
Once again China are guaranteed the title, but this time both players are unknown qualifiers making their first major final appearances. The top seeded Saina Nehwal was unable to go the push her opponent Li Xuerui and easily succumbed in two games 21-17, 21-11. The second seeded Zhou Mi suffered a similar fate against her opponent Liu Xin and lost 21-15, 21-18.
While not regularly an event with a strong presence from the Malaysians, Vivian Kah Mun Hoo and Khe Wei Woon have booked their place in the finals against China’s Pan Pan and Tian Qing. The Chinese pair are strong favourites to win the title, but the Malaysians have done well to fight their way through thus far.
The mens doubles features the top seeds from Chinese Taipei Chen Hung Ling and Lin Yu Lang who squeezed out a win over Korea’s Han Sang Hoon and Hwang Ji Man in three close games 21-18, 12-21, 21-18 to book their place against Korea’s fifth seeds Cho Gun Woo and Yoo Yeon Seong who booked their place with a win over Fang Chieh Min and Lee Sheng Mu 21-18, 22-20.
The last finals line up is the mixed doubles which has Yoo Yeon Seong in his second final with partner Kim Min Jung against Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying.
The Chinese cleaned up in the singles events, as well as taking the women’s doubles crown but the Koreans took the remaining two events.
Chen Jin claimed his first Super Series event of 2010 after a hard fought three game victory over 8th seeded and Chinese compatriot Chen Long. After losing the first game 21-12, the 3rd seed responded by winning the next two and taking China’s first men’s singles title of 2010. The event was a surprise, as Gade managed to beat Lin Dan for the first time in four years as the Chinese superstar failed to make the semi final of either of his first two events of 2010.
Jiang Yanjiao came into today’s final in a stunning vain of form, dropping just 73 points in four rounds to reach the final and was the massive favourite to overturn her Chinese team-mate and 6th seed Wang Shixian to take the title. The 6th seed however was in excellent form and stunned Jiang Yanjiao by inflicting a two game victory in just 40 minutes, with the 6th seed winning 21-15, 21-19 to take an unlikely victory.
The upsets didn’t stop in the women’s singles, as unseeded Ko and Yoo were a surprise finalist against top seeded Malaysia pair of Koo and Tan. The top seeds had failed to drop a game on route to the final whilst Ko and Yoo has battled past Lee and Jung, the 2nd seeds in an all Korean second round match and defeated last weeks winners Paaske and Rasmussen in the quarter final to knock a second seed on their way to the final. The unseeded Ko and Yoo stunned the Basel crowd as they defeated another seed, this time the top seeds 21-18, 21-16 to take the Swiss title.
This was the only all-seeded match in the three doubles events, as 7th Tian and Yu of China played Maeda and Suetsuna of Japan, the 5th seeds. Maeda and Suetsuna had defeated the top seeds of Chin and Wong in the quarter finals and then defeated Ha and Lee to reach the final, with the 7th seeds beat the 2nd seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa in the last 8 and then Chen and Chien in the semi finals to reach the final. The match promised to be of high quality as two on form partnerships played for the title, with Tian and Yu dominating the match from beginning to end to take the title 21-16, 21-13
The all-Korean final was between unseeded pairing of Shin and Yoo and 2nd seeded Lee and Lee. Shin and Yoo defeated the current world champions in the semi final to reach the final whilst Lee and Lee had the luxury of an extra rest day with the withdrawal of Mateusiak and Kostiuczyk from the semi final. The 2nd seeds looked in control for most of the first game, but they had to fight back from 16-9 down in the second to take the second game and to win the match 21-14, 21-18 in just over a half hour.
The story of the second half of the 2009 season has been the rising star Jan O Jorgensen’s growing list of conquests. Recently he upset Peter Gade, and now in China he has upset world number one Lee Chong Wei, Boonsak Ponsana, and today he defeated his first Chinese national team member when he won a marathon match against fourth seed Chen Jin. Jorgensen was off to a slow start in the first game when he lost 11-21. However, Jorgensen equalized when he won the second game 21-18 to force a third and final game. The final game went the distance with Jorgensen winning in extra points 22-20 after an hour and seven minutes.
Tomorrow Jorgensen will have to pull off the ultimate upset against World Champion Lin Dan if he is to win his first ever Super Series title. Lin Dan had a much smoother semi-final match against Korea’s Park Sung Hwan winning in two straight games 21-10, 21-11. In spite of a good run here so far, the odds are certainly stacked against Jorgensen tomorrow.
Korea’s Lee Yong Dae will be a busy man tomorrow as he will be featured in both the men’s doubles and mixed doubles finals. First he partnered with Lee Hyo Jung to defeat Thailand’s Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul in the mixed doubles and then with Jung Jae Sung in the men’s doubles they won an incredibly close match against Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen 21-16, 19-21, 23-21. Their opponents for the finals will be Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong in the men’s doubles and Zheng Bo and Ma Jin in the mixed doubles.
The women’s events have been overwhelmingly dominated by the Chinese. Tomorrow’s women’s singles and doubles finals will be all Chinese showdowns with Tian Qing and Zhang Yawen against their teammates Du Jing and Yu Yang in the doubles and then Jiang Yanjiao against Wang Xin in the singles.