Carolina Marin stayed in sight of a first World Superseries crown this year, making the semi-finals of the Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open 2016 today.
A repeat of the much-watched Olympic Women’s Singles final is on the cards, with silver medallist PV Sindhu (India) also making the semi-finals and in the process, assuring herself of a place in next month’s Dubai World Superseries Finals.
Meanwhile, in Men’s Singles, local hope Hu Yun got to within one win of making it to Dubai by beating Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro in the quarter-finals. A victory in tomorrow’s semi-final, over compatriot Ng Ka Long, will see Hu overtake Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei in the Destination Dubai Rankings. Hu is the only contender left, after his compatriot Wong Wing Ki fell; Wong had to make the final to stand a chance at qualifying.
Also keeping their hopes alive for Dubai were Denmark’s Men’s Doubles duo Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen, who booked a spot in tomorrow’s semi-finals against Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan/Rian Agung Saputro (featured image). Boe and Mogensen need one more win to overtake their compatriots Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen for a place in Dubai.
Olympic champion Marin was her devastating best against Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, wrapping the Women’s Singles quarter-final in just 38 minutes, 21-7 21-18, earning a semi-final against Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying.
“It was a really tough one, but I gave a good performance today, and I’m happy with that,” said last year’s Hong Kong Open champion. “I don’t want to think that I’m defending the title. I have to take it game by game.”
On her semi-final with Tai Tzu Ying – who beat her last week in China – Marin would only say: “Let’s see what happens. It’s gonna be a tough match.”
The last remaining spot for Dubai was between Sindhu and compatriot Saina Nehwal, who were just 410 points apart. Nehwal, having returned to competition after a long injury layoff, turned in another brave performance, nearly getting past Cheung Ngan Yi before her Hong Kong opponent breasted the tape ahead of her: 21-8 18-21 21-19.
Sindhu too had plenty of trouble in her quarter-final against Liang Xiaoyu. The Singaporean was all bustle and attacking energy and built up healthy leads of 14-7 and 15-9 in the decider.
With the deficit getting wider and wider, Sindhu, her face a picture of despair, shot nervous glances at her corner. It required all her experience to stay in the contest, but once she reached double digits, the momentum began to swing. Four straight points from 17 closed out the contest, 21-17 21-23 21-18.
“I was very nervous,” admitted Sindhu. “I was 7-14 down in the third. I was not confident with my shots; even when I played safe, they were going out, I didn’t know what to play. After I got a few points I became confident. Liang Xiaoyu has improved a lot.”
Three Chinese Pairs in Semis
In Women’s Doubles, it will be up to Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl to stop a Chinese title victory. The Danes were the only non-Chinese to make the semi-finals, after they battled past Thailand’s Rawinda Prajongjai/Jongkolphan Kititharakul, 19-21 21-16 21-18.
The Danes face new combination Bao Yixin/Yu Xiaohan, who upset top seeds Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Japan) 21-17 14-21 21-15.
The two China-Korea quarter-finals went China’s way. Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan outgunned Thaihot China Open champions Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee 21-19 21-13, while Huang Dongping/Li Yinhui had it tougher, getting past Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan in three games.
“It was a mess. We couldn’t find the rhythm,” said Pedersen. “After the first game we made a good comeback, a bit like yesterday. We talked of playing a bit more simple than usual. It was bumpy all the way.
“If we play the semi-finals like we did today, I’m not sure we can win. We need to step up and find a higher level, but I believe me and Kamilla can do that. We look forward to playing the Chinese. We love the challenge against them, they’re making new combinations and this is a new one, we haven’t played them before.”
It was a day of mixed luck for Hong Kong in Men’s Singles. Hu Yun and Ng Ka Long enjoyed quick victories, over Kuncoro and India’s Ajay Jayaram respectively, but Wong Wing Ki fell short in straight games against Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen, 21-19 21-17. The Dane takes on India’s Sameer Verma, who entered his first Superseries semi-final with a tight 21-17 23-21 defeat of Malaysia’s Chong Wei Feng.
Top Seeds Surprised
Indonesia’s scratch combination Mohammad Ahsan and Rian Agung Saputro came good against top seeds Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong, pulling off a surprise 21-11 17-21 21-17 victory. The Indonesians stand between Boe/Mogensen and a place in Dubai.
The Danes overcame mid-match blues to power past Malaysia’s Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi in three games. The other semi-final will feature Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda against China’s Chai Biao/Hong Wei.
In Mixed Doubles, Choi Solgyu and Chae Yoo Jung made their third straight Superseries semi-finals, beating China’s Zhang Nan and Huang Dongping.
It was Chae’s quicksilver reflexes that swung the match the Koreans’ way; the left-hander returned from desperate positions in the face of relentless Chinese attack, giving Choi the opportunity to kill and close it out 21-19 14-21 21-19.
In the other half, local pair Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet upset sixth seeds Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock 21-19 22-20.