Saturday, August 15, 2015
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Lee Chong Wei’s career-long search for his first world title saw him make yet another final as he set up a clash with Chen Long at the TOTAL BWF World Championships today.
However, Lee Yong Dae – like Lee Chong Wei still seeking his first world title – came up short as he and partner Yoo Yeon Seong ran into Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan. The Indonesians face China’s Liu Xiaolong/Qiu Zihan, while in Women’s Doubles, Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei’s title defence will see them face Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl in the final. The Women’s Singles final will feature India’s Saina Nehwal (below) against Spain’s Carolina Marin.
In a Men’s Singles semi-final of two distinct parts, Lee (featured image) blew away Jorgensen in the first game but found it harder to crack his rival in the second. The match somewhat resembled the earlier semi-final between Chen Long and Kento Momota; the Malaysian set a scorching pace which Jorgensen found hard to match. In the second game, however, the Dane found his rhythm and was able to work the shuttle around to enjoy a brief lead at 14-12.
Lee did not let him build on it and he once again upped the pace, firing in smashes from the deep to regain the advantage, which he kept until the end: 21-7 21-19.
“The first five points in the match gave me a lot of confidence,” said Lee.
“I just kept attacking. I was very focussed today; I was at 100 per cent. This year has been a bit more difficult because I have been pushed closer in the previous matches, while last year I won all my matches leading up to the final in straight games.”
Jorgensen conceded that he had been unprepared for the pace Lee set early in the match.
“I just forgot how to play Lee Chong Wei. I forgot the pace and speed he has – nobody else has that speed. I wasn’t prepared for that pace. I had a slight chance in the second; I showed some good stuff. When you play Lin Dan (in the quarter-finals) you use a lot of mental energy. I underestimated how much energy that cost.”
Saina Nehwal became the first Indian in a World Championships title bout after she stonewalled local hope Lindaweni Fanetri’s attempts to ride on the crowd’s energy. The Indonesian received medical attention for a troublesome knee, but she showed great fighting spirit and dragged Nehwal through a tough contest.
The Indian controlled the early proceedings but started to get edgy in the second with the crowd against her. However, Fanetri couldn’t capitalise and Nehwal sealed the win 21-17 21-17.
China, despite suffering big upsets during the week, still ensured representatives in four of the five categories. In Men’s Doubles, Liu Xiaolong/Qiu Zihan stepped up to the plate against Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa and came away winners after an enthralling contest, 21-16 21-23 22-20.
The Japanese saved two match points in the second game and had a comfortable 18-14 lead in the third, but Endo made the critical error as he served into the net. Liu/Qiu stormed back with five straight points; Endo and Hayakawa saved match points twice more but succumbed on the third.
Zhao Yunlei and Tian Qing set up a Women’s Doubles final with Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl with a one-sided win over Indonesia’s Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari. The Olympic and World champions were never threatened and had too many weapons for their opponents, as they completed a 21-8 21-16 rout.
With Indonesia having seen their contenders in Mixed Doubles, Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles fall in the semi-finals, it was up to Ahsan and Setiawan to salvage the day. Lee and Yoo had been in stellar form in the quarter-finals against China’s Zhang Nan/Fu Haifeng, but today they appeared a shade under par. The rock solid defence or fleet-footedness of yesterday was nowhere in evidence as Ahsan and Setiawan repeatedly caught them short; the Koreans’ play had a missing note and it was quickly exploited by the Indonesian duo. Their misery was complete when Yoo was service faulted while facing match point: 21-17 21-19.
“Lee and Yoo were favourites against us today as they have a better record against us,” said Ahsan. “Perhaps they were under pressure because they were the No.1 seeds. We had nothing to lose.”