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Unseeded Chinese suffer upsets

The strength of Chinese badminton is so overwhelming that even a win over their unseeded second string players is, or at least feels like, an upset. That in no way mitigated the elation felt by three lucky winners on quarter-finals day at the 2012 Victor Korea Open.

Sorokina-Nikolaenko (QF - rotator)Among the first to feel it at the first 2012 OSIM BWF World Superseries Premier event were Russia’s Alexandr Nikolaenko / Valeri Sorokina (pictured right).  After dominating 7th seeds Anugritayawon / Voravichitchaikul in the first round, the Russians finally found their way into a Superseries semi-final for the first time ever, scoring a three-game win over He Hanbin / Bao Yixin.

Though seeded higher, the Russian Open Grand Prix winners had to respect not only that their opponents had won the Bankaltim Indonesia Open in the fall, but that He Hanbin is a former All England winner and Olympic bronze medallist.

In contrast, while the future is obviously bright for his partner Bao Yixin, she has yet to command the respect on court of the best opponents and it was the Russians who remained in control of the match, winning 21-14, 13-21, 21-12.

The other two Chinese losses were bona fide upsets. First Bae Youn Joo knocked off world #9 Li Xuerui, and then Kim Ki Jung continued his now-annual romp at the Victor Korea Open.

For the third time in a row – once with Shin Baek Cheol and now twice with Kim Sa Rang - Kim Ki Jung has pulled off a major upset, only to come up against mighty compatriots Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae.

Kim-Kim (QF)

This time, the two Kims (pictured left) came back from 8-15 down in the second to see off world #18 Hong Wei / Shen Ye in two games.

“Moreso than strategy, I think I came in with confidence,” said Kim Ki Jung after the match, “because I had already beaten them with Hwang Ji Man a year ago.

“We were also inspired by the crowd,” said Kim. Their match was played in court 2, with the front row spectators in the newly-extended lower-tier seating almost close enough to touch the players. The roar that greeted the Koreans’ victory was almost befitting a finals day.

Asked if Jung Jae Sung’s injury presented an opportunity for them, Kim said: “Well, there is always an opportunity, but they know our playing style so well.

“Of course, we know theirs, too, but still, they are the only pair we have yet to beat in training.”

Wang Shixian (QF)China did see lots of success in the quarter-finals, of course, and indeed Bae Youn Joo will be alone amongst Chinese in the women’s singles semi-finals as Jiang Yanjiao, Wang Yihan, and Wang Shixian (pictured right) all advanced.

Women’s doubles will see two Korea-China encounters while Du Pengyu will have his work cut out trying to produce an all-China men’s singles final against Lin Dan as his win over Simon Santoso earned him a semi-final meeting with 2010 champion Lee Chong Wei.

The day finished with a final pair of victories for the home team, including a first ever for Lee Yong Dae / Ha Jung Eun over fourth-seeded Indonesians Ahmad / Natsir, which capped off an unbeaten day for Korean shuttlers.

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