Sat, Mar 10, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Taiwanese teen through to badminton quarter-finals

Staff Writer, with CNA, and AP, BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND

Seventeen-year-old Tai Tzu-ying is shown yesterday at the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships. Tai advanced to the quarter-finals of the women’s singles after defeating Juliane Schenk of Germany in straight sets.

Photo: Tsao Ming-cheng, Taipei Times

A Taiwanese teenager advanced to the quarter-finals of the women’s singles at the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships yesterday after taking down Juliane Schenk of Germany in straight sets.

In the first-ever matchup between the two, the 17-year-old Tai Tzu-ying knocked out the eighth seed 21-12, 21-11 at the Birmingham event, one of the world’s top five annual badminton tournaments. Tai, ranked 16th in the world, dominated the game in both sets, bagging victory over the 29-year-old in only 25 minutes.

The rising Taiwanese star will face Sung Ji-hyun of South Korea, who is ranked 11th in the world, in the next round. Tai is expected to move up one spot in the world rankings to a career high, after booking a place in the quarter-final. Since last June, Tai has defeated three of the world’s top four players: world No. 1 Wang Yihan of China, world No. 3 Wang Xin of China and India’s Saina Nehwal, ranked world No. 4.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese pair Lee Sheng-mu and Fang Chieh-min battled through a 55-minute game yesterday before sending Danish duo Jonas Rasmussen and Mads Conrad-Petersen packing 21-15, 17-21, 21-11 to progress into the men’s doubles quarter-finals. The pair, currently ranked world No. 12, are focusing on the category in which they play best to earn more points in a bid to qualify for the upcoming London Olympic Games, Taiwan head coach Liao Kuo-mao said.

In the mixed doubles, Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork ousted fifth-seeded Taiwanese Chen Hung Ling and Cheng Wen Hsing 21-13, 21-13.

“We were at our top level there,” a delighted Robertson said. “We haven’t beaten them before.”

Taufik Hidayat rolled back the clock with a smart 21-19, 21-19 win over Chen Jin.

Hidayat pressed Chen at the net, making the taller Chinese star constantly lunge for drops then smash his clearances. In the entire 62-minute match, Chen led only once, and by a brief point near the end of the first game.

“Last year, I went from the top of the mountain to the bottom, my form was very bad,” Hidayat said. “I haven’t played like this for a long time.”

It was Hidayat’s first win over Chen in five years. The duo had not met since the 2010 worlds, when Chen beat Hidayat in a lopsided final in Paris.

Lin Dan eased past Malaysian qualifier Chong Wei Feng 21-13, 21-16, staying on course for a third final in four years with defending champion Lee Chong Wei.

Chong Wei won an entertaining second-round match 23-21, 21-18 with Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, patting his opponent’s head with his racket afterward as a compliment for the Dane’s unrelenting attitude in his first go at the No. 1 player in the world.

Also joining them were No. 3-seeded Chen Long, No. 7 Kenichi Tago and No. 8 Lee Hyun-il of South Korea for the first time since he went all the way to the final in 2006, plus first-timers Malaysian qualifier Liew Daren and Indonesian surprise Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka.

They helped to make up the first all-Asian men’s quarter-finals since 2005.

Chong Wei saved two game points before claiming the first game from the hustling Vittinghus. Vittinghus lost steam and Chong Wei rolled to 7-0 in the second game, but from 14-8 down, Vittinghus tied it at 15 and again at 18 and forced Chong Wei to up his play.

Chen Long outlasted Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam 19-21, 21-9, 21-16 as payback for beating him last month in Thomas Cup qualifying, and Tago won an all-Japanese contest with Kazushi Yamada 21-17, 21-14.

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