Chen Long and Wang Yihan will defend their Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles titles respectively at the Yonex Denmark Open tomorrow, both reaching the finals in dominant fashion this afternoon.
The champion a year ago versus Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long will be up against Korea’s Son Wan Ho this time, having defeated Kashyap Parupalli who mounted a spirited if inconsistent challenge.
Cruising to victory in the second game, the world No.2 flashed a few glances at the neighbouring court where his girlfriend, Wang Shixian, was locked in battle with her namesake, Wang Yihan, who prevailed in the same arena last October. Having fallen to the title-holder 21-19 21-12 in 40 minutes, Wang Shixian will surely now lead China’s cheering section for Chen Long who has looked strong and confident on court all week. Today was no exception.
The opening game had some gripping exchanges as Chen grabbed early control at 11-5 only to see a calm Parupalli work his way back into contention with searing smashes and neatly-worked points, especially to the back court. The Indian got to within a point of his rival three times – the last being at 17-16 – but on every occasion Chen had the answer and applied greater pressure.
In the second, Chen imposed his will quickly and soon the scoreboard was ticking over in his favour – even the luck of the net was on his side – and he raced to 19-11. There were some tasty late flourishes from Parupalli, particularly one which lured Chen close to the net, allowing his opponent an easy flick into the yawning back court. Odense Sports Park erupted in applause at Parupalli’s guile.
However, Chen Long wasn’t to be denied and claimed the honours 21-16 21-15 as Parupalli pushed wide on match point.
“I’m more confident now after winning the World Championship. When you win big tournaments it gives you more confidence. Kashyap didn’t play very confidently though he had some nice shots. It’s a semi-final and we both had pressure but I handled it better,” said the player still basking in the memory of his last trip to Denmark for the Li-Ning BWF World Championships in Copenhagen.
Parupalli rued his inability to get going properly, noting he “played well in patches” but that Chen Long was “more consistent and was able to cash in on my mistakes”.
In Son Wan Ho, there’s an opponent of whom Chen Long will be wary having had significant trouble with the Korean at the World Championships before losing to him at last month’s Asian Games in Incheon. The No.7 seed polished off Chen’s team-mate Tian Houwei, 21-17 21-9, in a brisk 40 minutes to advance to Sunday’s showdown.
The Women’s Singles trophy already belongs to China but whether it remains with Wang Yihan or becomes another of Li Xuerui’s many treasures is left to be seen. Having withdrawn from last year’s quarter-finals due to a bad skin rash, Li feels she has unfinished business in Odense.
“Everything is better than last year so I’m happy,” she said, smiling after coming from behind to beat Beiwen Zhang yesterday.
There has been a resolve about her this week and her confidence that she can win from any position – plus an amazing array of strokes – somehow always breaks even the most optimistic opponent. Yet again, this was the case today and Sung Ji Hyun must wonder how she could not convert good advantages to be routed in straight games.
A drop shot into the front court and it was business as usual for Li – 21-17 21-12; time to put away her rackets and head home until tomorrow.
* Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir delivered a master class to their junior peers, Riky Widianto/Puspita Richi Dili in the all-Indonesia Mixed Doubles semi-final. There was no sentimentality as the youthful pair succumbed 21-10 21-15 to their accomplished elders. The storyline was much the same in the all-China semi-final, with the experienced Xu Chen/Ma Jin squashing Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin, 21-12 21-9, to set up another tantalising clash with their arch-rivals whom they lead 9-5 in the head-to-head count.
* Wang Xiaoli/Yu Yang prevailed in an entertaining all-China Women’s Doubles semi-final that was a repeat of this year’s Yonex All England final. Again, the seasoned duo triumphed over Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting in three games – 21-14 19-21 21-11. They will meet the No.3 seeds from Japan, Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (featured image), who overcame their team-mates, Reika Kakiiwa/Miyuki Maeda, 21-18 21-12, and declared their eagerness to tackle the two-time World champions whose success they want to emulate.
* Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong maintained their quest for a second successive Denmark Open Men’s Doubles title and a fourth-straight World Superseries crown, eliminating fans’ hopes of Danish involvement in the finals. Ousting Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen, 21-14 21-17, the Korean defending champions credited excellent defence and good transitions for their victory.
“We moved forward to return their steep smashes and then transition to attack. It was a good strategy and we’re happy to be in the final again,” said Yoo.
They will face the relatively-new combination of Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan in the final. The Chinese seized their third match point for a 21-15 23-21 outcome against Korea’s World Championship-winning pair, Ko Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Choel.