Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan assured themselves of a first appearance at the Dubai World Superseries Finals by making the quarter-finals of the Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open 2016 today.
The in-form Women’s Doubles pair (featured image) were in competition with Malaysia’s Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei for the last remaining spot, but their defeat of compatriots Luo Ying/Luo Yu, and the Malaysians’ loss to Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl, meant that they would be invited to the year-ending finale.
“Qualifying for Dubai has been a priority,” said Chen, after the 21-14 18-21 21-16 victory. “We have aimed for it for a long time now, and we’re very happy to make the grade.”
Hoo/Woon, just 1230 points behind Chen/Jia, had to win their second round against their Danish opponents to stay in contention for Dubai. They seemed on track after running away to a quick first game win, but then got increasingly ragged as the match wore on. Too erratic at important points, the Malaysians couldn’t quite stitch up the kind of game they needed to trouble the Danes, going down 10-21 21-11 21-9.
Chen and Jia will be up against Thaihot China Open champions Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee in the quarter-finals. The Koreans had it rather easy against Indonesia’s Della Destiara Haris/Rosyita Eka Putri Sari, 21-18 21-16.
The hosts had an exceptional day, savouring wins in four categories. In Men’s Singles, Wong Wing Ki and Hu Yun kept alive their chances of qualification for Dubai, making the quarter-finals with three-game wins over England’s Rajiv Ouseph and Korea’s Son Wan Ho respectively. Ng Ka Long also made the quarter-finals, beating compatriot Lee Cheuk Yiu. Another local star, Wei Nan, was a point short of joining them, but couldn’t put the lid on Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen.
Lee Chun Hei made the quarters in both his categories. Lee and Law Cheuk Him (Men’s Doubles) shot past Malaysia’s Lim Khim Wah/Ong Jian Guao in 48 minutes, before Lee combined with Chau Hoi Wah in Mixed Doubles and surprised Yonex French Open champions Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen.
Nehwal, Sindhu March On
India’s Saina Nehwal’s dream journey in Hong Kong continued, as she surpassed her own expectations with a dogged win over Japan’s Sayaka Sato. The victory means she and compatriot PV Sindhu are the two contenders left for the final Women’s Singles spot at the Dubai World Superseries Finals.
Nehwal had come to Hong Kong tentative about her fitness and form. Against Sato today, the Indian turned in a performance that might not have been pleasing aesthetically, but was high on courage and determination.
If Nehwal was worried about lasting the distance, she showed no sign on court that it was admittedly one of her toughest matches yet. At times it was Sato who doubled over in exhaustion after the rallies, while Nehwal readied herself quickly for the next point. The Japanese got to within a point at 12-13 in the third but Nehwal pushed on from there, closing out the match comfortably: 21-18 9-21 21-16.
“It was so tough,” Nehwal smiled, panting from the effort. “It was one of my toughest matches. I’m surprised, both Porntip (first round) and Sato are good attackers and good movers, I never thought I would beat them. I was happy I was moving better than yesterday. My movement is much better, although there’s still some pain. I didn’t imagine I’d play at this level after 2-1/2 months. I salute (physio) Heath Matthews. You need to be in good shape to beat players like Porntip and Sato.
“My approach to fitness has changed. It’s become easier now. I used to do much tougher sessions. My strength is good, but endurance is still low. Mentally, both my matches have been tough. It’s a tournament to test myself, I have no pressure.”
It was a good day overall for India, with Nehwal and PV Sindhu (Women’s Singles) and Ajay Jayaram and Sameer Verma (Men’s Singles) progressing. The only casualty for them was the loss of HS Prannoy to Malaysia’s Chong Wei Feng.
Sindhu made her way past Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Ya Ching, 21-10 21-14. The two Indians are the remaining contenders for the last Dubai spot in Women’s Singles; if they both win the quarter-finals tomorrow, their semi-final clash would decide who makes the cut.
Nehwal takes on Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi, while Sindhu has a face-off against Singapore’s Liang Xiaoyu.
In the other half, defending champion Carolina Marin (Spain) eased past local hope Yip Pui Yin, 21-18 21-16, earning a quarter-final against Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi.
Thaihot China Open champion Jan O Jorgensen was nearly shown the exit by Wei Nan. The local star led with the end in sight and got two match points after Jorgensen misjudged a toss. Yet the Dane held firm, and stayed confident at the death to take the match 19-21 21-13 24-22.
“It was really close. Tough game, no rhythm, no nothing,” mused Jorgensen. “Credit to this guy (Wei Nan)… very tricky player, he’s beaten Lee Chong Wei a few times, he’s very dangerous. I knew that he would give it all on his home ground. I’m not surprised at how the match went. I knew on one of the sides I would have difficulties to lift and he would come with his hard smashes. I’m very happy that I’m trying to stay focussed after last week. I just try to stay in the moment and do as well as I can.”
India’s Sameer Verma made his first Superseries quarter-final beating Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai 19-21 21-15 21-11 and will take on Chong Wei Feng.
Jorgensen next faces another home player, Wong Wing Ki, while Hu Yun takes on Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro. The bottom quarter will feature Ng Ka Long against India’s Ajay Jayaram.
Two Hong Kong pairs made the Mixed Doubles quarter-finals: Lee Chun Hei/Chau Hoi Wah were joined by Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet. Thaihot China Open champions Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir were troubled by Japan’s Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino, but came through in three games. The Indonesians face China’s new combination Liu Cheng/Li Yinhui.
In Men’s Doubles, Yonex Denmark Open champions Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong avenged their China Open loss to Zhang Nan/Liu Cheng. The Malaysians prevailed 19-21 21-17 21-16 and booked a quarter-final against Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan/Rian Agung Saputro, vanquishers of compatriots Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi.
Denmark’s Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen moved one step closer to Dubai qualification beating Indonesia’s Markis Kido/Hendra Aprida Gunawan 21-6 21-7; they face qualifiers Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi (Malaysia), who won a close encounter with Korea’s Yoo Yeon Seong/Kim Jae Hwan.