Tai Tzu Ying reversed a sequence of five straight losses to Sun Yu, booking her spot in the final of the World Superseries Finals for the third time in four years.
Tai, runner-up at the event in Kuala Lumpur (2013) and winner in Dubai in 2014, offered glimpses of her prodigious talent in her Women’s Singles semi-final against the Chinese, getting the job done in 50 minutes: 21-19 21-19.
Despite the loss, China had reason for cheer, as Tian Houwei beat former nemesis Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark) in the Men’s Singles semi-finals to give himself a shot at a first World Superseries title. Young guns Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan rode into the Women’s Doubles final, where they face Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi. England’s Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock were the other pair to record a victory in the morning session.
Tai had never beaten Sun in five meetings, and was fired up from the start. Sun found herself chasing for the most part, having to react to her opponent’s heavily disguised shots coming from unexpected angles. Tai (featured image), often guilty of frittering away the advantage with loose play, suffered a similar spell in the second, but quickly pulled herself together and shot ahead of the tall Chinese.
“I’ve always made too many mistakes in past matches against her, while she was always stable,” Tai said. “Today I tried to cut down on the errors. I’m very happy to have finally beaten her after five losses.”
Tian Frustrates Jorgensen
Tian Houwei went into his Men’s Singles semi-final against Jorgensen with a negative record, having won only twice in eight meetings – including the inconsequential group match yesterday. It was a match quite unlike their past encounters: Jorgensen wasn’t his usual unruffled self capable of steady play over long periods, while Tian was willing to step on the pedal with his attack at the first opportunity. Jorgensen lost the plot midway in the third: 21-17 19-21 21-13.
“It was a different kind of match, he changed the tactics and I couldn’t cope up that well with the kind of things he came up with,” rued Jorgensen. “Sometimes he was playing a rallying style and then he changed to a very offensive style. That why I couldn’t get any rhythm and made too many mistakes.
“I made too many mistakes. Sometimes you need to go in there and get physical and I didn’t dare to do it, so I took some easy chances and made too many mistakes. I think he played well, he changed the tactics a lot, a bit different from the last time we played and that worked well for him.”
Matsutomo and Takahashi were unstoppable in their Women’s Doubles semi-final. Nothing that their opponents Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl did could stem the flow of points. The patterns of play fell nicely for the top seeded Japanese, who will attempt to add a fifth Superseries title in 2016 to their Olympic gold medal.
“It was one of those days…,” shrugged Rytter Juhl. “We were not 100 percent today, and you have to be at 100 percent to have a chance against them. They were one step ahead on every rally.”
“Our focus this year was the Olympic Games,” said Takahashi. “It’s tough to go back to the level we were in Rio but we are getting there. As we played more games, I’m getting a good feeling about my play. We are trying to approach this tournament in the same way as we did the Olympic Games.”
In contrast to the one-sided win that the Japanese enjoyed, Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan pulled off an unlikely straight-games victory over Korea’s Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee. The match seemed set for three games with the Koreans ahead by miles, at 14-5 in the second. However, the Chinese kept getting closer and closer, and the Koreans started to falter under the pressure. Chen and Jia, jumping in excitement at every point, reeled off seven of the last eight points to seal the contest, 23-21 22-20.
Mixed Doubles defending champions Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock were involved in a tense tussle with Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto. After a close second game, the third promised a thriller, but it all went wrong for the Indonesians after a brilliant spell by Gabrielle Adcock at the front court. Some sensational interceptions and tight netplay by Gabrielle left the Indonesians frustrated, allowing the England duo a comfortable homestretch at 21-19 17-21 21-9.
“I think it was all going well today. I’m surprised at how aggressive I was at the net. I just kept the momentum rolling, I don’t think my feel stopped at all in the third game!” said Gabrielle.