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Swiss Open 2014 - review: China Sweep Thwarted

European players – Viktor Axelsen and Chris/Gabrielle Adcock – withstood the might of China to lift two titles in the Badminton Swiss Open finals in Basel yesterday.

Denmark’s Axelsen fought back from two match points down in the Men’s Singles showdown (below: presentation ceremony) to deny China’s Tian Houwei the title and, in doing so, celebrated the biggest success of his young career. In the last match of the tournament, English couple Chris and Gabrielle Adcock  (right) enjoyed a surprisingly one-sided 21-17 21-13 victory over China’s Chai Biao/Tang Jinhua - both of whom were seeking their second title of the Open.

China claimed the other three crowns through Wang Yihan in Women’s Singles; Chai Biao/Hong Wei in Men’s Doubles and Bao Yixin/Tang Jinhua, who returned to winning form in Women’s Doubles.

Axelsen had a tough route to the championship, overcoming the likes of Korea’s Lee Dong Keun in the second round (21-8 21-19), China’s Chen Yuekun in the third (17-21 21-16 21-13), and England’s Rajiv Ouseph in the quarter-finals, 19-21 21-16 21-16. In the semi-finals, he scored a significant outcome, toppling senior compatriot Jan O Jorgensen, 13-21 21-13 21-14, before facing Tian Houwei in the final. Tian had a relatively smooth path, quelling Korea’s Son Wan Ho in the quarter-finals and India’s Kashyap Parupalli in the semi-finals, both in straight games.

It was apparent the final would be decided on the basis of who controlled the shuttle better, given the strong drift at one end. Axelsen was near perfect in the first game as he avoided going on all-out attack; instead opting for the ‘holding’ shots and keeping Tian guessing. Fortunes swung the other way in the second game as Tian was able to control the rallies and the match headed into a climactic decider. It was Axelsen who surged ahead and, with a 15-8 lead, appeared to have one hand on the trophy.

However, a series of misjudgements by Axelsen at the baseline helped Tian draw level and grab two match points. An aggressive Axelsen used his booming cross-court smashes to deny his opponent, finally taking the trophy on his fourth match point, 21-7 16-21 25-23.

The Women’s Singles final was a clash of generations: the experienced Wang Yihan (BWF home page) versus the exciting new talent Yu Sun. Wang had breezed into the final with ease, past dangerous opponents like India’s Saina Nehwal in the quarter-finals and Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun in the semi-finals in straight games. Yu, on the other hand, survived a feisty battle against India’s PV Sindhu in the semi-finals, 18-21 21-12 21-19.

Wang was tested by her young challenger. The tall Yu’s fluent footwork and fierce smashes helped her take the opening game, but Wang’s dogged retrieving abilities and court craft carried her through, 21-23 21-9 21-11.

HIGHLIGHTS:

* Fourth seeds Chai Biao/Hong Wei (above) took the Men’s Doubles title without dropping a game all tournament. Chai/Hong had impressive victories over top-seeded Danes Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen in the semi-finals (21-15 22-20) and Chinese compatriots Zhang Nan/Fu Haifeng in the final (22-20 21-14). 

* In Women’s Doubles quarter-finals, top seeds Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark were beaten for the third straight time by Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari of Indonesia, 21-16 21-17. The Indonesians went on to reach the final and had an early lead against Bao Yixin/Tang Jinhua (left) but the superior firepower of the Chinese won the day, 19-21 21-16 21-13. It was their eighth title in ten events.

* Meanwhile the Adcocks savoured their biggest moment since winning the Hong Kong Open Superseries last November, outplaying Chai Biao/Tang Jinhua, 21-17 21-13, in 38 minutes. The husband and wife emerged champions after a tough grind in which they fought past  Korea’s Shin Baek Choel/Eom Hye Won in the second round (21-17 21-12), Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto in the third (21-23 21-14 21-17) and China’s Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin in the semi-finals (21-12 18-21 21-14).

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