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China win three of five titles at Swiss Open

Dev Sukumar
732   //    18 Mar 2013, 10:19 IST

China grabbed three of the five titles on the last day of the Swiss Open at Basel on Sunday to continue their dominance of the circuit.

Despite not fielding their best players in all events, the Chinese overcame a loss in the first match – the mixed doubles – to win three golds. Former World Junior Champion Wang Zhengming and last year’s finalist Wang Shixian won the singles titles.

Things didn’t begin well for China, as their new mixed doubles combination of Zhang Nan and Tang Jinhua were outpointed by Denmark’s Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen 22-20, 21-19. Zhang Nan, who won the Olympics gold with regular partner Zhao Yunlei, partnered the relatively inexperienced Tang Jinhua and the two did run the Danes close. The Danes led through most of the first game, and even had four game points at 20-16, but Zhang and Tang fought back to equalise. However, the Danes just about managed to win the next two points and go a game ahead.

The second game was evenly matched until midway. From 10-all, the Danes managed to edge ahead and keep their lead. It was almost a replay of the first game, as they had five match points at 20-15 and yet again saw the Chinese clawing back to 20-19. However, Fischer and Pedersen kept their nerve and won the next two points and the match.

The men’s singles final was a contest between two of China’s emerging prospects. Du Pengyu, who featured in five major finals last year, was the favourite and top seed, while Wang Zhengming, as 11th seed, hasn’t quite fulfilled the potential he showed as a winner of the World Juniors in 2008. Zhengming had a huge lead at 15-7, but Pengyu caught up at 16, and Zhengming edged past him at the homestretch. The second set was a different game altogether as Zhengming led from start to finish, and completed one of his career’s major victories, 21-18, 21-18.

The women’s doubles final was the only match of the day without a Chinese presence. The Korean pair of Jung Kyung Eun/Kim Ha Na saved five game points in the first game to defeat their compatriots Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan 23-21, 21-16.

The next match was the women’s singles final between Wang Shixian (China) and recent All England runner-up Ratchanok Intanon. Shixian was once ranked No.1 and gold medallist at the Asian Games, but suffered a loss of form last year that saw her dropped from China’s Olympics team. She has bounced back somewhat in recent months, but hasn’t been able to achieve a title victory. The last title she won was over a year ago, at the Korea Open 2012.

Shixian had a 3-1 record going into the match, and she asserted her dominance early, countering whatever the Thai could come up with. Ratchanok is one of the most skilful players in the world, but Shixian’s superior fitness and retrieval abilities helped her grind out the Thai rather easily, 21-16, 21-12, in just over half-an-hour.

The final match of the day was between Korea’s Lee Yong Dae/Ko Sung Hyun and China’s Chai Biao/Hong Wei. The Koreans were able to win a close second game, but the Chinese were superior for most of the hour-long match, winning 21-14, 18-21, 21-14.

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Dev Sukumar
Dev S Sukumar is the recipient of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Media Award, 2011. He is India's most widely travelled badminton writer, having covered several international tournaments, including the Olympics, the Asian Games, the CWG Games, World Championships, the All England, the Denmark Open, the Malaysia Open, etc. He has covered badminton for over ten years now. During this period he has met fascinating characters, witnessed great matches, and has authored a biography of Indian badminton great Prakash Padukone. He has written on the game for several publications, including Sports Illustrated, Mint, Badminton Asia magazine, The New Indian Express, Hindustan Times, DNA and IANS. He tweets at
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