Photos by Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports
Shinta Mulia Sari and Yao Lei beating their Indian opponents Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa to qualify for the semi-finals. (Photo 1 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Friday, June 18, 2010 — Yao Lei and Shinta Mulia Sari have kept Singapore’s flag flying at the Singapore Badminton Open as the young duo defeated India’s Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa 21-19 21-16 to become the first ever Singapore women’s doubles pair to make the semi-finals in the prestigious annual event.
In a repeat of last Sunday’s women’s doubles final at the 2010 India Grand Prix Gold Championships, where Singapore’s world number 14 pair took three games to defeat India’s world number 18 pair, the tables remained unturned in Singapore with Yao / Shinta taking only 26 minutes to register the historical feat for the host nation.
“When we saw the draw we knew there was a good chance they would progress, and they played well to win it. Though they were a little nervous towards the end of the second game but it was good that they were able to keep their nerves in control to win the game,” revealed the pair’s team manager Chew Keet Hou.
After leveling up 15-all in the second game, the two pairs were neck-and-neck and instead of succumbing to the pressure of playing at home, Yao / Shinta displayed remarkable composure to edge out Jwala / Ashwini 21-19.
“They are definitely the pair we are grooming for the 2012 Olympic Games,” shared Keet Hou, “especially after Li Yujia / Jiang Yanmei retired following the 2008 Olympic Games, we have decided they are the ones together with Vanessa [Neo] to groom for the next Games.”
This is not the first time China-born Yao Lei has created history for her adopted nation. At the 2008 World Junior Championships, Yao Lei teamed up with Fu Mingtian to scoop the girls’ doubles gold medal, which was a first for Singapore. Despite the rousing success, the pair was “split up” predominantly because Fu is a singles specialist.
Keet Hou explained: “Shinta was overaged for the 2008 World Junior Championships so Yao Lei was teamed up with Mingtian instead as Mingtian was eligible to play in the World Juniors that year. After the victory, the coaches also decided that Yao Lei and Shinta would complement each other better [on the senior stage].”
Yao / Shinta had big shoes to fill when Jiang Yanmei and Li Yujia announced their retirement in 2008 as Jiang / Li had won for Singapore the 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medal and 2007 SEA Games bronze medal, however, Jiang / Li have never progressed beyond the quarterfinals at any of the Super Series events they competed in.
Expounding on the success of these foreign talents, Keet Hou said: “The fact that they are full-time athletes allow them to commit fully to training and competing. Yao and Shinta have the drive to move forward and that’s why they have arrived at where they are at. Comparing that with local players, they demonstrate greater drive and desire and it’s a commitment they’ve given to the sport since young instead of education, which the locals have to commit to.”
Singapore’s men’s doubles pair of Chayut Triyachart / Danny Bawa Chrisnanta, a Thai-Indonesian combination playing for Singapore, found the reigning Olympic champions Markis Kido / Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia too hot to handle. After putting up a gallant fight, Chayut / Danny bowed out of the competition in two games of 21-17.
Yao / Shinta will face the 4th-seeded pair Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin of Chinese Taipei in the semi-final on Saturday. The semi-finals of the Singapore Badminton Open will begin at 2pm at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
N.B. This event is also known as the Li-Ning Singapore Open 2010 Super Series
Gutta and Ponnappa gave the Singapore duo a hard fight in the second set. The lead exchanged hands several times, before Shinta and Yao Lei pulled ahead after the 15-15 mark. (Photo 2 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Yao Lei goes for a shot. The duo had six net winners compared to India’s four. (Photo 3 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Shinta was plagued by several service errors throughout the match. However, it did not trouble the pair much as they scored 23 smash winners compared to India’s 14. (Photo 4 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Chayut Triyachart’s run to the final was ended by Indonesian second seed Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan. (Photo 5 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
Despite the Singapore pair keeping pace at the start of the second set, the Indonesians shook free to win the match 21-17, 21-17 in a match lasting 29 minutes. (Photo 6 © Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports)
More pictures in the gallery.