Simon Santoso rekindled some of his old fire as he outplayed Du Pengyu to reach the Men’s Singles final of the OUE Singapore Open yesterday.Indonesian Santoso had plummeted to a ranking outside the top-100 after a prolonged slump in 2013, but has been working his way back. In the semi-finals he faced China’s Du Pengyu, whom he had beaten in the last Superseries final he’d figured in – the Djarum Indonesia Open 2012.
Du, the more physical of the two, set the early pace and led Santoso throughout the first game, but it turned into a tight contest in the second. From 13-all the Indonesian made his move, and he kept a narrow lead to force the decider.
Long months away from Superseries action – he has played only three Superseries events in the last 17 months – did not appear to have dimmed his craft or his hunger and the wily Indonesian controlled proceedings in the third game too to book a place against his nemesis Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. Santoso has beaten Lee only once in ten matches and he will be aware that the dice is loaded against him as the Malaysian is one win away from a fourth successive Superseries victory.
Lee had to battle past feisty Srikanth K (above). The young Indian fought level with the top seed and even surged ahead in the late moments of the opening game at 19-16. Lee however did not allow him one more chance from that point on, and Srikanth could only rue his luck as the Malaysian accelerated away, 21-19 21-18.
It was a bad day for Korea. After the high of several quarter-final victories, including new combination Kim Sa Rang/Yoo Yeon Seong’s upset of World champions Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan, the Koreans stumbled to defeats in all their four semi-final matches. In Men’s Doubles, Kim and Yoo had a narrow lead over Cai Yun/Lu Kai but the Chinese squeezed out the last two points for a first-game lead and stayed ahead for most of the second to complete a 21-19 21-16 result.
Cai/Lu will meet Chinese Taipei’s Lee Sheng Mu/Tsai Chia Hsin, 22-20 18-21 21-14 victors over Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Choel.
* Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl (above) earned themselves a shot at stopping the Chinese juggernaut of Bao Yixin/Tang Jinhua by overcoming Japan’s Ayaka Takahashi/Misaki Matsutomo 11-21 21-15 21-14 in an hour-long Women’s Doubles battle. Bao/Tang had an easier path, given a walkover by compatriots Luo Ying/Luo Yu. Pedersen/Rytter Juhl trail 0-2 in their career meetings with Bao/Tang.
* The Women’s Singles final will be an all-China affair as familiar rivals Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan face off. Li took half-an-hour to rout Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun 21-13 21-13, while Wang was similarly untroubled by compatriot Han Li, 21-18 21-12. Li will have an opportunity to level her 5-6 record against Wang, whom she last beat at the Hong Kong Open in 2012.
* Indonesia were assured of the Mixed Doubles title, with World champions Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir and Riky Widianto/Puspita Richi Dili (above) winning their semi-finals. Ahmad/Natsir were taken the distance by China’s Liu Chen/Bao Yixin, 17-21 21-11 21-19, while Widianto/Dili needed 70 minutes to upset third-seeded Koreans Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na, 20-22 21-17 21-16.