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Schenk flies European flag, Ponsana finds home advantage

Never was an emotional moment on a badminton court as vivid as when Juliane Schenk sank to her knees after winning the women’s singles final of the Li Ning Singapore Open 2012. 

Schenk (pictured right) has been in three OSIM BWF World Superseries finals before this, and for a 29-year-old with nearly a decade in the senior circuit, her first World Superseries title win had taken a long time coming.

In fact, it has been over two years since a women's singles Worlds Superseries title is won by a European. 

And how difficult her opponent Chen Shao Chieh made it for her! Schenk’s speed and power helped her impose herself upon Cheng Shao Chieh and hustled her into making errors. The 21-11 first game bore no sign of the struggle the second would become.

The second game was a physically grueling encounter and as tense a thriller as one was likely to witness – a 9-0 comeback run by Cheng after she was trailing 10-15 to lead 19-15, then three game points saved by the German, and then four match points saved by Cheng again.

As Cheng found her rhythm, her game took on a different dimension and causing both players to drag across the extremities of the court for close to an hour. The range of Cheng’s strokes was breathtaking at times, helping her befuddle Schenk with her deception and unpredictable strokeplay.

The German, for her part, kept in the game by her sheer athleticism. She had played three three-set matches coming into the final, and the physical toll had probably begun to tell. The two went neck-and-neck, and as the game wore on, Schenk seemed to be flagging, and the German played a couple of tired strokes that found Cheng 20-17 ahead.

Each point from then became a tense contest. Schenk saved the three game points, and earned four match points – each time Cheng conjured a winner, until finally, Schenk caught her with a tight net shot, and the Taipei girl’s weak return saw the German sink to her knees and cried – tears probably of relief at the end to the agony.

The men’s singles title went to another veteran – Boonsak Ponsana, who at 30, outwitted his much-younger opponent from China. This was only Ponsana’s second World Superseries title, both won in Singapore, and his win denied Wang Zhengming the opportunity to record his first.

This win confirms the Thai’s good run in Singapore, where he has entered the final four times and winning it twice, is not a mere fluke. To which the Thai has often credited his sturdy fan base in the city state of Singapore for his success.

In this year’s final, Ponsana (pictured right) played a smart game to outwit Zhengming. The Chinese 22-year-old was devastating when he got his opportunity to unleash the smash, but for the most part Ponsana worked the net game, disallowing Zhengming the freedom to unleash his attacking side. The second game was tight all the way, and the two remained within a point of each other.

Eventually, the greater experience of the Thai and the “home” advantage made all the difference, as he capitalized on an error from Zhengming and nailed the final on his first match point.

In other matches of the day, China’s Bao Yixin and Zhong Qianxin overpowered Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin 21-12 21-17, though Cheng Wen Hsing then teamed up with Chen Hung Ling to win a gold for Taipei and an OSIM uDivine massage chair for herself following their 21-17 21-11 victory in the mixed doubles.

2008 Olympic champions Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan (pictured left) made an emphatic return to form by taking the men’s doubles over Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong 21-11 26-24.

All the winners in Singapore are from different countries, just as it had happened at the Djarum Indonesia Open last week.

Results of the finals of the 2012 Li Ning Singapore Open can be found here.

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