Crowd favourites Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei set up an intriguing semi-final at the Thaihot China Open 2015.
Lin and Lee were both stretched in their Men’s Singles quarter-final matches today. Korea’s Son Wan Ho will meet World champion Chen Long in the other semi-final.
In Women’s Singles, China’s big three reasserted themselves. It will be up to defending champion Saina Nehwal to prevent China from taking the title. The Indian will take on Wang Yihan, while the other semi-final will see a clash between Wang Shixian and Li Xuerui.
Lee will be hoping to reverse a sequence of five straight losses to Lin when he faces him tomorrow. Not since the Korea Open of 2012 has Lee had the better of Lin. Neither player appeared at their peak today. Both started well, faltered in the middle, and then pulled through comfortably in their respective quarter-finals.
Hong Kong’s Hu Yun stayed level with Lin until 10 in the third game, after which Lin shifted gears and closed it out 21-8 10-21 21-17. Lee’s opponent Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark) appeared to have put a quick first set loss behind him with a strong comeback in the second, but Lee continued to set a high pace early in the third and the Dane flagged. Some uncharacteristic errors later, Jorgensen found himself quickly out of the contest, and Lee pocketed the match 21-11 11-21 21-10.
The most engrossing Men’s Singles contest was actually between qualifier Shi Yuqi (China) and Korea’s Son Wan Ho. Playing identical styles, quicksilver feet and unleashing sharp smashes at the first opportunity, Son and Shi were caught in a fierce exchange that went the Korean’s way at the very end, 21-19 11-21 21-18.
Earlier, Chen Long, facing one of the few players who has caused him trouble this season, shut out Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen 21-17 21-13.
Axelsen traded blows on even terms with Chen. Playing a careful game and using his smash judiciously, Axelsen was able to stay level until the very end of the first game, when a couple of errors nixed his chances. The Dane level noticeably went down from there and Chen wrapped it up in 50 minutes.
“Chen Long played better; I tried my best to break his rhythm and get my good game going but I made too many mistakes. Some of my other matches with him this year have been much closer. My preparation hasn’t been too good; I have been struggling with a bad thigh; I wasn’t able to practice until Wednesday last week. It’s been a bit up and down, so I’m pretty satisfied with my result in this tournament.”
Chinese Storm Back
Yonex Denmark Open champion Li Xuerui led China’s big three into the semi-finals with a clinical 21-16 21-13 result over Victor Korea Open champion Sung Ji Hyun. Wang Shixian followed with a typically doughty three-game win over Spain’s Carolina Marin; Wang Yihan wrapped up a good day for the Chinese by overcoming Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying.
Marin’s match against Wang Shixian was closer for the most part than the score suggested, for the Spaniard used her speed and attacking range to keep Wang on the backfoot. At 10-all in the third, it looked like anyone’s game, but Marin inexplicably lost the next 11 points in a row to fall 21-13 10-21 21-10.
“I couldn’t control the length of the shuttle; it’s a difficult hall, there is some drift as it’s a big hall,” said Marin. “She played well; I made some mistakes. My physical condition is good. This is the second straight time I’ve lost to her… I have my strategy and she has hers, we will see what happens next time.”
Defending champion Saina Nehwal was never troubled during her 21-16 21-13 victory over Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara.
Korea in MD title hunt
China’s young Men’s Doubles pairs, who had caused immense damage yesterday to more established names, could not progress past the quarter-finals. Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen, conquerors of top seeds Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong, were stopped by Korea’s Shin Baek Choel/Ko Sung Hyun 21-18 21-14. Another young pair, Wang Yilv/Zhang Wen, too could not make much headway against Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa (21-11 21-14).
However, China still have a pair left in Chai Biao/Hong Wei, who face Ko/Shin. Endo/Hayakawa will be up against Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang, who outplayed Denmark’s Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen 1 9-21 21-13 21-9.
Zhao in line for two
Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei escaped from a tight spot against Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto. Trailing 6-12 in the third, the top seeds once again showed their immense reserves of mental toughness by plugging the leaks in time and pocketing 15 of the next 19 points for a 19-21 21-13 21-16 victory.
Zhang/Zhao will be favourites when they face compatriots Xu Chen/Ma Jin, who earned a hard-fought 27-25 21-19 result over young Danes Niclas Nohr/Sara Thygesen; Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin face Denmark’s Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen in the other semi-final.
Zhao later teamed up with Tian Qing and once again staged a recovery. Facing compatriots Luo Ying/Luo Yu, whose pace and fierce attack helped them dominate the early part of the match, Zhao and Tian turned it around expertly in the second game and finished victorious at 16-21 21-15 21-12.
In the top half, Korea’s Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee surprised No.3 seeds Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl 21-18 21-16 and take on top seeds Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Japan), who eased past Malaysia’s Amelia Alicia Anscelly/Soong Fie Cho.