Chinese Taipei enjoyed a happy semi-finals day at the Yonex Open Chinese Taipei 2016, giving themselves a shot at three titles.
Chou Tien Chen, Tai Tzu Ying and Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin carried the hopes of the home crowd into the finals, where they will be up against Chinese opposition.
On their part, China assured themselves of the Women’s Doubles title while sending representatives to all five finals. The only other nation in contention for a title is Malaysia, whose Mixed Doubles pair Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing (featured image) rode into the final.
The Women’s Singles title clash will be the 12th face-off between Tai and Wang Shixian; the Chinese has the career edge at 7-4 but has lost the last two contests. In today’s semi-finals, Tai cruised past Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol, 21-15 21-14, while Wang was pushed harder by compatriot He Bingjiao, making it home in the longest match of the day, 21-18 17-21 21-18.
Another close match was the first Men’s Doubles between local pair Chen/Wang and China’s Zheng Siwei/Huang Kaixiang. The Taiwanese were composure personified in repelling the Chinese; for the most part keeping the shuttle tight at the tape and forcing their opponents to lift the shuttle, which invited Wang’s fearsome attack.
“We knew their tempo was faster than ours, and we found it hard to get used to it,” said Chen, who set up the openings for Wang to exploit. “The goal was to get into the rallies and force them to make mistakes. Our defence made the difference in the end. We used to overthink earlier. Our combination has matured and now we try not to think too much.”
Chen/Wang’s hopes for an all-Chinese Taipei final were dashed when their compatriots Lee Sheng Mu/Tsai Chia Hsin fell to top seeds Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen 21-15 21-19.
Luos Edge Past Thais
Thailand’s Chaladchalam Chayanit and Phataimas Muenwong were a trifle unlucky to go down to Luo Ying/Luo Yu in straight games. Despite the gulf in their rankings, the No.30 Thais turned in a feisty performance that nearly tripped the No.7 Chinese.
Muenwong in particular was a livewire around the court, and her attack from the back frequently caught the Luos by surprise. The diminutive Thai smashed with power and followed up quickly to take charge at the net, finessing the shuttle over the tape a number of times. The Thais had a window to take the first game at 17-13 and 20-19; a keen rally ensued and the Chinese were steady when it mattered, pulling away to a 22-20 opening game win.
The Thais refused to be dispirited and fought all the way, with Muenwong again playing some standout badminton. A missed interception at 19-all gave the Chinese the opening they sought, and they converted when Chayanit blew a kill into the net.
Luo Ying was all praise for Muenwong: “The shorter one (Muenwong) was really quite strong and showed a lot of heart. I admire her spirit,” she said. “It was close in both games. We haven’t played them before and it took us time to adjust. We just had to trust each other and adapt to the situation.”
The Luos face Zhong Qianxin/Huang Dongping, who got the better of second seeds Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan in an all-China semi-final: 21-16 21-18.
Chen however will figure in the Mixed Doubles final with Zheng Siwei. The fifth seeds took just 26 minutes to get past Indonesia’s Hafiz Faisal/Shella Devi Aulia; they next face Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing.
Tan/Lai made their second Grand Prix Gold final after the Viktor Far East Malaysia Masters this year, with a tight win over another Indonesian pair, Riky Widianto/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja, 21-17 22-20.
Qiao Bin Takes On Chou
China’s emerging Men’s Singles prospect Qiao Bin faced less trouble from Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk than he might have anticipated; the Thai going down 21-11 21-16 in 38 minutes. Qiao’s opponent in the final, Chou Tien Chen, enjoyed similarly smooth passage, beating Malaysia’s Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin 21-16 21-10.
“Today it was easier compared to yesterday,” Chou said. “Probably my opponent couldn’t get into rhythm. He played with a lot of emotion in the second game, but the audience was with me and that must have been hard for him. I haven’t won a title in a while; for tomorrow I hope to continue playing the way I’ve this week.
“If I win tomorrow, it will mean accomplishing one of my life’s goals. I have the chance to do what many of my senior players have done.”