Sunday, April 12, 2009

BAC Finals – Kido and Setiawan Cool Champions

Korea’s doubles pairs kept the spectators on the edge of their seats but finally came up just short at the 2009 Happy Suwon Badminton Asia Championships. Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong were the closest to glory, erasing nine match points, including six in a row before letting Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan (pictured) add a second Asian title to their extensive collection. Earlier, Ma Jin and Wang Xiaoli took their second straight title leaving Lee/Lee with the silver medal at home for the second time this year.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Suwon. Photos: (live)

The hard work appeared to be finished for Lee Kyung Won and Lee Hyo Jung yesterday when they emerged victorious over the pair that had beaten them both in last year’s BAC semi-finals and at their last home final, in Seoul. But Ma Jin and Wang Xiaoli had other plans. They beat a Korean pair in the final their last time in Korea, as juniors in 2006, and with their win in India two weeks ago, they seemed to approach the match like favourites rather than as unseeded underdogs.

The 11-point intervals came on shots that appeared, at first, to tell the tale of each game. In the first, both Lees watched motionless as a smash whizzed right down the centre line. The Chinese kept the momentum and finished the game 21-11. The second game started with an onslaught from the Koreans as they nabbed the first two points with a powerful net kill from Hyo Jung followed by a smash return winner from Kyung Won. The interval came at 11-3 when Hyo Jung killed the shuttle into Ma Jin’s body.

Throughout the match, Lee Kyung Won adopted the tactic of holding her serving pose then flicking over Ma Jin the moment she lowered her hand from the “not ready” signal position. This seemed to work to a point but neither this, nor the Koreans’ impressive start could stop the Chinese from taking back the momentum and they finally caught the Olympic silver medalists at 17-all and took advantage of a string of errors, many of which they themselves created with their consistent, attacking play. The match ended as Lee Hyo Jung pushed another shuttle into the net and the Chinese took their second Grand Prix Gold title in three weeks.

"We are new to the international tour so every new matchup is unfamiliar," said Ma Jin after the match, "but I think we were more prepared to play against them today than they were to play us.

"Lee Kyung Won was trying some different tactics against us but we did well at anticipating their movements so that is why we won."

Korea’s next chance at a title seemed much slimmer as new pair Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong had the unenviable task of taking on Olympic champions in the men’s doubles final. Each of these Korean players came into this tournament having won no bigger international title than the Vietnam Open but their lack of experience was belied by their stellar performance.

In the first game, the lead continually traded hands until the Indonesians pulled ahead at 16-12. The Koreans evened it up at 18-all but Kido and Setiawan kept their composure and finished it 21-18. Yoo/Ko gained an edge at the interval in the second game but Kido/Setiawan went on a rampage until they earned themselves six match points.

The Koreans then exhibited all the poise they needed under pressure and slowly clawed their way back. Two dubious line calls helped and Setiawan’s appeals to the service judge and chair umpire were to no avail. When Ko Sung Hyun made a spectacular, diving return and Hendra smashed the golden, short lift into the net, the crowd erupted in jubilation.

The Koreans saved another three match points and missed a game point of their own before the Ko mishit an interception to deliver Kido/Setiawan their second Asian title.

After the match, Setiawan maintained that he continued to believe they would win, even in the crucial final points, even though he felt he lacked power due to an inability to sleep the night before the final.

“They played much as we expected: very powerful and speedy,” said Setiawan. “We tried to keep attacking at the end. We thought that was the best way, and with Markis at the back because he has a better smash.

“This win is very important for us because it is our first title this year,” he said, adding that this milestone was more important than taking their first Asian title since 2005. “Now we will celebrate by sleeping and resting for one or two days, then it’s back to training because the Sudirman starts in three weeks. I feel good now and we have confidence now that we can win some Super Series events but it has been boring here without the rest of the Indonesian team. It’s just been me and Markis and our coach.”

“We are very disappointed that we didn’t take the title,” Yoo Yeon Seong said. “We dared to dream of taking the spotlight at home today but at the end it was obvious that the skill difference was just too great and we realize that but I think if we get back and train hard we can beat them the next time.

“In the last points, it was obvious that with all their experience in big finals, they were able to control their excitement and remain calm and that was what made the difference.”

With that final ended the international challenge on finals day but the crowd remained keenly appreciative of the men’s singles final, the first of two all-China affairs, which delighted not only the sizeable Chinese cheering section but which also kept the Korean spectators entertained as they looked forward to the appearance of the nation’s top two mixed doubles pair.

Playing in his first ever international final at the senior level, 2007 World Junior Champion Chen Long made a more than acceptable showing, taking the first game from Bao Chunlai before the veteran buckled down and won the battle of the giants 16-21, 21-10, 21-16.

Friday, April 10, 2009

BAC QF – Sasaki Single Singles Holdout against China

China grabbed a commanding 7 of eight available semi-final spots in singles at the 2009 Happy Suwon Badminton Asia Championships. Sho Sasaki ended up as the last man standing against Chinese domination as he grabbed the last spot with a win over Zhou Wenlong. India’s Parupalli Kashyap threatened to deal Bao Chunlai the same lot but came up short in the end.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Suwon. Photos: (live)

Quarter-finals day started off with a string of one-sided doubles matches. Although Zhang Yawen and Chai Biao retired midway through game 2 of their quarter-final, the 30 minutes that had already expired were longer than either of the Korean pairs took to book their semi-final spots. Olympic champions Lee/Lee made quick work of their younger teammates while Malaysia’s Chan/Goh were almost as lost against home favourite Yoo Yeon Seong and Kim Min Jung, who won 21-13, 21-6 in just 27 minutes. Japan’s Hirata Noriyasu / Maeda Miyuki took a little more time but still defeated China’s Chen/Zhang in two.

China then took over the stage. Chen Long got things started with a convincing 21-8, 21-17 drubbing of Japan's Kozai Kazuteru. Then on the centre TV court, Jang Young Soo went to work to salvage the home honour in the men’s singles against Du Pengyu.

Jang kept things close through most of the first game but had trouble keeping his defensive returns low, inviting several easy kills from Du. Du needed some protection from the chair umpire, who corrected an out call on Du’s smash down the forehand line.

Facing 4 game points, Jang was the one to keep his consistency and some deceptive play plus a couple of errors from Du brought up the crucial 20-all tie. Jang then found the touch to put Du on his backhand, prompting a smashable short lift, then on game point, he kept his smash return low and kept the advantage.

In the second game, Jang tried to move Du around but the Chinese shuttler seemed to glide effortlessly wherever he needed to go and finished the game, largely unchallenged. The third game was more of the same. Despite flashes of brilliance, Jang was outplayed by his younger opponent and Du finished it 21-14, ending the home challenge and ensuring half of a very likely all-Chinese final.

Minutes later, Japan’s Sho Sasaki made sure that at least one of the eight singles semi-finalists would be representing a nation other than China. Sho kept up relentless pressure on Zhou Wenlong for a 21-18, 21-16 victory.

Immediately afterward, at the other end of the hall, Parupalli Kashyap took a shot at going one step further and actually blocking the all-Chinese final. Bao came out firing to an early lead but seemed to get complacent as Kashyap stayed focussed and consistent, making his way to a 15-8 lead before Bao started to reel him in. The Indian upstart never panicked, however, and moved out to 19-14 on a deceptive drop that bounced off the tape and into Bao’s court and the first game was soon history.

Bao played with greater urgency in the second game and stole 9 straight points to take a commanding 19-8 lead that the Indian could not dent before allowing Bao to even the match at one game apiece.

Kashyap stayed in control for the first part of the deciding game, leading 11-8 at the interval, a lead he guarded jealously with some punishing attacks to Bao’s backhand after the Chinese giant tied the game at 11- and then 12-all. Bao finally made a 7-point run from which his opponent never recovered and took the match 15-21, 21-9, 21-16 to keep alive the possibility of an all-Chinese final.

“I still don’t know exactly what happened,” said Kashyap after the match. “I think the feeling of beating him didn’t sink in. When I was leading in the third game, I really just wanted to finish it but then I started playing into his hands. He doesn’t like to move around the court. He just wants to keep taking a step or two and driving it and I started letting him do that.

“I think that my shots were better than his today overall but I wasn’t doing anything special. I was just playing my regular game and it was working,” Kashyap said of his ability to take commanding leads in the first and third games.

There was no hint of vulnerability for China in the women’s singles, meanwhile. Not even Hong Kong’s mainland-born Zhou and Wang could block their ex-compatriots Zhu and Wang from joining Wang Lin and Xie Xingfang in the semi-finals. Spectators were robbed of the chance to see a repeat of last year’s final when Jiang Yanjiao ceded a walkover to 2008 runner-up Wang Lin. Zhu Lin played 3 one-sided games against Zhou Mi, coming from a game down to win it 12-21, 21-13, 21-15.


When Anne Hald closed out her duel against Yik Man Wong on her 4th match point, she knew the Danish team wrote a new chapter in the already prosperous history of the dominant powerhouse. The 3-0 clean sweep against the Netherlands appears to be a comfortable win at first sight, but the youngsters from Denmark had to fight to claim the title in the team event.

By Elm Vandervorst, Badzine correspondent. Photos (archives) : Badmintonphoto
Both Denmark and the Netherlands won their semi final almost effortless, so it was difficult to predict who would be triumphant at the end. Was the strength of the Dutch double teams sufficient? Or would the stronger singles of Denmark give them the advantage?

The mixed doubles was scheduled as the final’s first match and therefore all pressure was on the shoulders of Jacco Arends and Selena Piek. But their opponents, the Danish pair Anne Skelbaek / Mads Pedersen, took the best start and the first set 21-12. The second game was much closer but after some crucial slip-up’s from Pedersen, the Dutch pair evened the score 21-19. In the deciding rubber the Danes got back on track and took an early lead which they held during almost the entire set. However at 19-9, Arends and Piek got back into the match and took seven points in a row. Close, but not close enough and after 44 minutes of top badminton Denmark took the third set 21-18.

Danish youngster Emil Holst and Jordy Hilbink from the Netherlands were the next line in the men’s singles. The Dutchman started off very well and was leading all the way until 20-16. At that time Hilbink committed some unforced errors and after saving five game points, Holst took the first set 25-23. And also the second set was a very close one. Both players went to 20-20, but again it was Holst who kept his nerves and finished the contest with 22-20.

With 2-0 behind, all eyes were on Yik Man Wong to keep the title dreams of her home country alive. In the women’s singles match she had to beat her adversary Anne Hald. And Hald took immediate control and never gave Man Wong a chance 21-15. Luckily for the crowd the Dutch shuttler took herself together and the opportunity to prevail. But just like her compatriots she felt short and a few minutes later it was Hald who could celebrate her success with her teammates.

Further one Germany and former titleholder England made it to the semi final and they were both given the bronze medal. As there were only seven groups and first seed Denmark was bye in the quarter final, the three other teams at the last eight were France, Russia and Ukraine. Some players already showed some great form and seem fully prepared for the individual event which is going on at the moment.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

ASIAN CHAMPS PREVIEW - Chinese Assault on Suwon Fortress

The Happy Suwon Badminton Asia Championships are set to kick off Tuesday with top flight badminton from some of the best the continent has to offer. Most hotly contested will be the women’s singles, where all but one of the 14 Asians in the world’s top 20 - led by All England champion Wang Yihan ave signalled their intention to play for the title in Korea's historic walled city.

By Don Hearn. Photos:

Spring has taken its time arriving in Korea but it is expected to finally warm up this week, just in time to greet Asia’s top shuttlers with an eruption of cherry blossoms and other flora as they arrive in Suwon for the Badminton Asia Championships.

The men’s events should have been a happy occasion in Happy Suwon for three Koreans trying to defend their Asian titles. However, with Jung Jae Sung and Park Sung Hwan still missing in action following the start of their military duties, their younger teammates will be soldiering on to try to keep a title at home.

Lee Yong Dae and Shin Baek Cheol will attempt to find the magic that helped them win the German Open title but they will face an uphill task with world #1 pair Kido/Setiawan in the race and in their half of the draw. Before a potential semi-final with the top seeds, Lee/Shin will likely face either their German Open final opponents Hayakawa/Kazuno or China’s Chai Biao / Liu Xiaolong.

The bottom half of the draw is very difficult to predict, stacked as it is with dangerous, second-tier pairs such as Kumar/Thomas, Fang/Lee, Ikeda/Sakamoto, and China’s Guo/Xu. Korea has a more than fair chance of producing a finalist there, too, as veterans Han Sang Hoon / Hwang Ji Man are in a separate quarter from Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong. Ko won the last tournament held in Suwon while Yoo recently signed on with the Suwon City Hall pro team.

The men’s singles draw is seriously under-strength, especially with the recent announcement that Bao Chunlai will miss the event due to knee surgery. Still, China will be well-represented with Chens Jin and Long as well as Lu Yi, Du Pengyu and Qiu Yanbo.

Boonsak Ponsana who has made early exits in all but two tournaments since last year’s championships, is seeded second and will attempt to challenge the Chinese might. Hafiz Hashim of Malaysia will hope to keep his edge over Chen Long in their likely, second-round showdown and Malaysia will have a legion of youthful challengers to complement their crafty veteran.

The best Korean chance, on paper, is 15th seed Hong Ji Hoon. He could take advantage of Bao Chunlai’s withdrawal but first he will have to get past Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh in the round of 16. Osaka finalist Shon Wan Ho will have to show very early that he can play with the big boys as he is set to meet Chen Jin in the second round.

The women’s singles has by far the strongest field. Even the qualifying rounds look more like a Super Series with stalwarts like Zhu Jingjing, Kim Moon Hi, and Kang Hae Won waiting in the wings. Minus the Indonesians, all of Asia’s best are in the draw, including China’s formidable top 7. Two of China’s best, Wang Yihan and Zhu Lin, are crouched to take out Korea’s top two shuttlers – Hwang Hye Youn and Bae Youn Joo respectively - in the first round while Yip Pui Yin and Saina Nehwal are two others with the unenviable tasks of facing the likes of Wang Lin and Jiang Yanjiao in the first round.

If they all make it through their tricky first rounds, Malaysia’s two Wongs will face off against China’s two Wangs and the other major factor is Hong Kong. Wang Chen and Zhou Mi both of whom were semi-finalists in Seoul in January, will be gunning for Wang vs. Wang and Zhou vs. Zhu quarter-final matchups.

Korea’s Lee/Lee have won two Asian women’s doubles titles together and another one each apart. However, they will have to be in top form this week when they face Zhao Tingting / Zhang Yawen in the second round with the winner likely having to go on to face Zhang’s former parter Zhang Dan, now playing with another Zhang under the Macau flag. Zhang/Zhang made their debut together in Suwon two years ago and were embarrassed by a couple of teenagers but they have since been to a Super Series final and are not to be taken lightly. The pair that emerges from that chamber of horrors must face Korea Open champions and top seeds Cheng/Chien of Chinese Taipei.

The bottom half of the draw promises some interesting second round China-Korea matchups, too as India Open champions Ma/Wang take on second-seeded Koreans Ha/Kim and Eom/Jung get a chance at a rematch against former Olympic champions Yang/Zhang, who were given a surprisingly competitive match by the Korean teens in Seoul this winter.

On the face of it, the mixed doubles might seem to be all about the quarter-final between Lee Yong Dae / Lee Hyo Jung and Indonesia’s Flandy Limpele / Vita Marissa in a repeat of the Olympic semi-final.

However, the bottom two quarters may be even more hotly contested, if less likely to produce a title pair. Chinese Taipei's Fang/Cheng, Thailand's Prapakamol/Thoungthongkam, and Korea's (and Suwon's) Yoo Yeon Seong / Kim Min Jung all go at it for one quarter-final spot.

Also, surprise All England finalists Ko Sung Hyun / Ha Jung Eun will get a good chance to show their result in Birmingham was no fluke They are in perhaps the weakest quarter but must take on Hong Kong's fourth-seeded Chau/Wiratama in their quarter-final.

The dark horses in the mixed draw are from China as veteran Zhang Yawen teams up with 19-year-old Chai Biao. Swiss Open champion Ma Jin also has a temporary partner and she may get a chance to see if her winning streak over Olympic Champions Lee/Lee was due to more than just Zheng Bo.

Badzine will be on site in Suwon all week to bring you the action complete with live photos.

OSAKA INT'L - Singles Seeds Stung

Only two seeded players remain in the singles draws at the 2009 Osaka International Challenge. Korea has swept all four semi-final spots in the men's event while a Korea-Japan final is fixed for the women's singles. Meanwhile, Japan accounts for all but one doubles semi-finalist in all three disciplines.

By Don Hearn. Photos: Don Hearn and (archives)

20-year-old 8th seed Shon Wan Ho was the only seeded player to make it to the semi-finals in men's singles. He also played the longest of the four matches on Friday as it took him just under an hour to see off Pakkawat Vilailak of Thailand 21-11, 21-23, 21-15. He will face Korean veteran Jang Young Soo, who beat second seed Hsieh Yu Hsin in 3.

Top seed Ai Goto barely made it through to the last four in women's singles, beating Korean veteran Bae Seung Hee 24-22, 18-21, 21-15 in a 74-minute marathon quarter-final. She will face Imai Sachiyo in the semi-finals. The other semi-final will be between Korea's twin towers, Kim Moon Hee and Sung Ji Hyun Kim had worked hard in the second round to eliminate China's only entry, Wang Rong, but had an easy time with Thai teenager Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in the quarter-finals, winning in under half an hour. Sung Ji Hyun, meanwhile, announced her candidacy for this year's junior titles when she beat last year's World Junior Championship runner-up Sayaka Sato 18-21, 21-19, 21-11.

The doubles events all belong to Japan but the quarter-finals were not without drama. Komatsuzaki/Taohata removed the only seed in the men's event, edging Thailand's Chalardchalaem/Thanarkthong in three quick games.

In women's doubles, only the top seeds, Fujii/Kakiiwa, survived as all four quarter-finals were very close. The closest was an unheard-of 72-minute two-game match won by Matsumoto Misaki / Takahashi Ayaka over 4th seeds Naito/Matsuo 21-19, 22-20. The Japanese 18-year-olds had advanced to the quarter-finals with a sweet victory of Korea's Eom/Jung, who had beaten this pair in two junior events last year, including one at home.

Mixed is the only doubles discipline with a non-Japanese pair as top seeds Chien Yu Chin / Hsieh Yu Hsin of Chinese Taipei scraped by Amitrapai/Chalardchalaem of Thailand with a 20-22, 21-12, 21-19 victory.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Kontrak Sponsor Setara Ronaldinho dan Powell

Prestasi pebulutangkis Indonesia memang sedang meredup di awal tahun 2009, tapi hal ini tak membuat mereka kehilangan daya tarik. Enam pebulutangkis anggota pelatnas PBSI dan pelatih Hendrawan secara resmi bergabung dengan tim Nutrilite Indonesia, yang didukung oleh Nutrilite, produk suplemen dan multivitamin dari Amway. Secara simbolis, bergabungnya Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Simon Santoso, Maria Kristin, Adriyanti Firdasari, Markis Kido, dan Hendra Setiawan dengan tim Nutrilite Indonesia ini dilakukan di Hall Badminton Olimpic, Kelapa Gading, Jakarta, Minggu (29/3).

“Kami tak cuma melihat prestasi mereka di 2009. Indonesia punya sejarah dan tradisi yang bagus di cabang bulu tangkis. Prestasi atletnya kelas dunia. Ini yang menjadi alasan kami memberikan dukungan buat mereka,” jelas Koen Verheyen, Presiden Direktur Amway Indonesia.

Di kancah internasional, Nutrilite telah menggaet atlet kelas dunia macam Ronaldinho (sepak bola) dan Asafa Powell (atletik) untuk menjadi bintang iklan. Kerja sama ini membuat Sony dkk. menjadi model iklan Nutrilite, baik di papan reklame ataupun media cetak.

Menurut Hendrawan, Nutrilite bakal menyuplai suplemen dan vitamin untuk Sony dkk. Jenisnya disesuaikan dengan kebutuhan.

“Ada dua macam suplemen yang dikonsumsi oleh mereka. Selain itu, ada juga suplemen tambahan, tergantung pada permintaan dan kebutuhan. Misalnya untuk mengontrol tekanan darah atau meminimalkan cedera seperti yang dikonsumsi Kido dan Simon,” jelas Hendrawan.

“Yang paling terasa pengaruhnya adalah untuk proses pemulihan kondisi. Hal ini tentu bermanfaat jika sedang latihan berat untuk persiapan sebuah turnamen,” kata Sony.

''Daya tahan dalam latihan jadi lebih lama. Selain itu, saya juga jarang sakit,'' imbuh Firdasari.

Tambah Pemain

Menurut Hendrawan, kerja sama ini diawali dari pemakaian produk Nutrilite oleh beberapa atlet sekitar satu setengah tahun yang lalu. Setelah ada komitmen dan kemauan dari atlet untuk rutin memakai, kerja sama yang lebih serius pun dijalin. Selain memberikan suplemen secara gratis, ada nominal yang juga diterima pemain. Hanya, soal ini Koen tak mau menyebut.

Tak menutup kemungkinan pemain di nomor ganda campuran dan ganda putri bakal menyusul mereka yang sudah lebih dulu masuk tim Nutrilite Indonesia.

“Saat ini kontrak kami dengan pemain untuk jangka waktu satu tahun. Tapi, ada kemungkinan untuk terus berlanjut, kalau bisa sampai Olimpiade 2012,” tutur Koen.

Announced in Milan the 2009 Badminton European Junior Championships

Announced in Milan the 2009 Badminton European Junior Championships

This morning the 2009 Badminton European Junior Championships, due to take place in the Milan Palabadminton from April 3 to 12 2009, have been presented at the Press Centre of Palazzo Marino.

Not only sports and competition but also different collaterals have been dealt with, with particular focus on the opening ceremony in the Badminton-dedicated structure at the Sports Centre XXV Aprile.

FIBa President Alberto Miglietta, the new Sport City Councillor Alan Rizzi, the President of CONI Lombardia Pino Zoppini, the President of the Organising Committee of Milan, European Capital of Sport 2009 Filippo Grassia and the Italian Junior team coach Fabio Morino attended the conference.

The host Alan Rizzi: opened the press meeting. “This sport was born in England, my second country since I was born in London. That’s why I’m even more proud to participate in this sports major event which will contribute making Milan becoming the European Capital of Sport and the restructured fixture of the Sport Centre XXV Aprile will be the pride of our city”.

Pino Zoppini: took then the floor “These championships are not only an elite competition but they are also the occasion for the opening of a federation centre which was unthinkable some years ago.”.

Filippo Grassia echoed these words and declared “sports and political will can make good things in short time . Palabadminton has been strongly wanted not only by the Federation but also by the Olympic Committee and the Institutions and actually it was renovated in only three months

FIBa President Alberto Miglietta took then the flloor: “I would say that we could call these championships the “first time championships’. It is the first time that our sport organises European championships in Italy: It is the first time that the 10 days formula is adopted for competitions.. It is the first time that FIBa feels it has a home, a federal centre in which next August the project London 2012 with the six best athletes living in Milan will start. It is the first time that I, coming from Milan, will organise a badminton event in my city. It has been quite a challenge –Miglietta proudly continues – and we won. Our federation is not very well known but it is very active and I am quite happy to underline that the three millions euro we required have been really well earned’.

After a short video showing badminton and the National Junior team the Italian coach Fabio Morino revealed some curiosity on this sport: “The team is in good shape and our boys and girls are pretty excited. We will be especially watching Giovanni Greco, our top athlete already included in the London 2012 Olympic programme. Our sport is very dynamic and spectacular and some of you may not know that the shuttle, made of 16 goose feathers with a cork basis may overcome 320Km/h speed, about 6/7 time more than a tennis ball! So I invite all of you to come and see what it is about”..

Next randezvous will be Thursday April 2 at 6.30 p.m. for the inaugural ceremony of the Palabadminton and the official opening the Championships with Antonio Rossi and Agnese Allegrini.

Competitions will start on Friday 3 with the qualifying matches of the Team events.