Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari finally cracked the Chinese puzzle that has bothered them for over a year, getting the better of Yu Yang and Tang Yuanting to enter the semi-finals of the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2016 today.
Having lost five straight matches, the odds were stacked against the Indonesians but they played an astute game and outmanoeuvred the Yonex All England runners-up. The key to their victory was their sharp defence, with which they parried the biggest smashes Tang Yuanting threw their way.
“We learnt from our mistakes in the earlier matches,” said Polii. “We just controlled everything, our emotions and feelings. We’ve always challenged the Chinese, so we don’t think this win is special. This win will make us more confident for the future.”
The top seeds take on Yonex All England champions Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Japan) in the semi-finals. The Japanese eased past Dutch pair Selena Piek/Eefje Muskens 21-16 21-17. A second Japanese pair, Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao, also made the semi-finals, against No.2 seeds Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Denmark).
The Danes came away unscathed against young Chinese duo Chen Qingchen and Jia Yi Fan. After outsmarting the World Junior champions 21-15 21-15, the Danes said they were feeling sharp and ready.
“We saw them play on Wednesday and Thursday and they beat the best Koreans and we knew we should find our ‘A’ game today,” said Pedersen. “We also believe we are strong and they have to play very very good to beat us. We are on a good track at the moment and we believe in ourselves and that worked today.
“We are feeling good, we had good practice since the All England and that gave us confidence. We had some weeks to have practice at home with the boys, and that helped us in our movement and speed. We enjoy that we can still beat the young pairs.”
Women’s Singles saw some close battles. Local hope Saina Nehwal eked out a battling win over Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun 19-21 21-14 21-19, while former India Open champion Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand; featured image) survived the challenge of Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying, 12-21 21-14 22-20. The all-China quarter-final between Li Xuerui and Wang Shixian went the way of Li after an hour’s battle: 22-20 12-21 21-17.
Nehwal’s battle with Sung Ji Hyun left both players so drained that they stayed on the floor for a minute after the final point was won by the Indian.
“It was difficult for me this time because of the expectations,” said Nehwal. “It was hard to read her drops, she’s in great shape. I didn’t expect such a tough match. She was picking up all my smashes, so I had to stick on in the rallies.”
The clash of two of the classiest stroke players in the women’s game – Tai Tzu Ying and Ratchanok Intanon – went Intanon’s way after Tai blew her chances. The Taiwanese was all sparkle in the beginning, pulling off each of her audacious shots, but lapsed into error in the second and struggled to shut the door in time despite leading in the third.
Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen cruised into the Men’s Singles semi-finals, decimating Hong Kong’s Wei Nan 21-17 21-12; his next opponent will be Korea’s Son Wan Ho, 21-11 13-21 21-8 victor over Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto.
The other semi-final will feature China’s Xue Song against Japan’s Kento Momota. Xue earned a hard-fought win over German Marc Zwiebler, and Momota enjoyed a quick 21-8 21-9 result over Dane Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.
Young Indonesians Markus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo stormed into the Men’s Doubles semi-finals with a 21-11 21-17 verdict over Chinese Taipei’s Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin; they will face Malaysia’s Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong, 19-21 21-16 21-13 winners over Denmark’s Mads Pieler Kolding/Mads Conrad-Petersen.
The closest match of the day was seen in Mixed Doubles. Indonesia’s Riky Widianto/Puspita Richi Dili emerged on top after a neck-and-neck battle with Danish veterans Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen, 23-25 21-19 23-21. The Indonesians face Thailand’s Bodin Issara/Savitree Amitrapai, who surprised China’s Liu Yuchen/Tang Jinhua 15-21 21-18 21-18.