Porntip Buranaprasertsuk thwarted an all-Chinese party in the Women’s Singles semi-finals with an impressive win that would have broken Shanghai hearts at the Victor China Open tonight.
The Thai notched her first victory in four matches against 2011 champion and one of Shanghai’s most popular daughters, Wang Yihan, to book a semi-final against seventh seed Wang Shixian. Defending champion and top seed, Li Xuerui, and rising sensation, Han Li, will battle for the other finals spot.
Buranaprasertsuk was the underdog in her quarter-final against Wang Yihan but got the better of the favourite in an hour-long contest. She seized the initiative early and, though local girl Wang clinched a close second game to rousing cheers from the crowd, was able to power ahead in the crucial closing stages, 21-16 18-21 21-16.
On the neighbouring court, the reverse was in progress – with China, thanks to Wang Shixian, dominating Thailand in the form of World champion, Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand, 2). The 24-22 21-10 result was a remarkable sixth success out of seven clashes for Wang Shixian as Intanon seemed powerless to break the jinx that haunts her versus this opponent. An engrossing duel unfolded in the first game, with sensational rallies and brilliant strokes. Intanon had the edge but failed to convert any of four game points. Once Wang Shixian snatched the opening honours from Intanon’s grasp, the Thai quickly crumbled.
In the other two quarter-finals, top seed Li Xuerui outclassed young compatriot, Sun Yu, 21-16 21-18 while Han Li (above) upset fourth seed Sung Ji Hyun of Korea, 21-13 21-15.
Interestingly, the Women’s Doubles semi-finals will also see a Thai duo among three Chinese pairs. Duanganong Aroonkesorn and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul were beneficiaries of a retirement from third seeds Ma Jin/Tang Jinhua (China). The Thais face Bao Yixin/Zhong Qianxin (China, 8), who powered past Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl, 16-21 21-7 21-12. The other half pits World champions Yu Yang/Wang Xiaoli against Olympic champions Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei.
The Olympic champions had some trouble settling down against Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi (Japan). The first game went Japan’s way as Matsutomo and Takahashi played to their strengths, defending stoutly and snatching points on the counter-attack. Tian and Zhao looked out of sorts but they reversed the flow to prevail, 16-21 21-16 21-8. They challenged Matsutomo and Takahashi to attack and the relentlessness of their defence got to the Japanese who became erratic. By the third game, Matsutomo and Takahashi looked demoralised and Tian/Zhao cruised home.
* The Mixed Doubles quarter-final matches were decided quickly. Top seeds Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (China) dismissed Chris Adcock/Gabrielle White (England), 21-13, 21-11, while their semi-final opponents Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen (Denmark, 4; below) were 21-19 21-19 victors versus Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying (Malaysia). World champions Tontowi Ahmad (above; left) and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia took 32 minutes to outscore Anders Kristiansen/Julie Houmann (Denmark), 21-15 21-15, and will face Kim Ki Jung/Kim So Young (Korea), who received a walkover from Xu Chen/Ma Jin (China, 3) due to the latter’s pull-out.
* After his impressive performances in the first two rounds, Malaysia’s Liew Daren would have been expected to give second seed Chen Long a fight in their Men’s Singles quarter-final. That was not to be as Liew’s injury-prone body again scuttled his campaign. The Malaysian retired with Chen galloping away 21-10 14-1. Chen tackles another Malaysian, Chong Wei Feng, while Japanese youngster Kento Momota (BWF home page; right) plays China’s Wang Zhengming (BWF home page; left) in a clash of former World Junior champions. Wang brushed aside senior compatriot and third seed Du Pengyu, 21-17 21-8. Momota conquered Hong Kong’s Hu Yun 21-9 22-20.
* In Men’s Doubles, How Thien Hoon and Tan Wee Kiong (Malaysia) overcame mid-match trouble against giant Russian, Vladimir Ivanov, and his partner, Ivan Sozonov, to advance 21-14 18-21 21-15 to their third Superseries semi-final. Hoon and Tan looked in control of the second game, leading by a few points, but erratic plays after Tan broke a string allowed the Russians to equalise. In the third game, however, Tan again lifted his level and found adequate support from Hoon who surprised the Russians with some unusual shots.
Players from three other nations are vying for the Men’s Doubles crown: Cai Yun/Chai Baio (China); Kenichi Hayakawa/Hiroyuki Endo (Japan; left) and Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong (Korea).