China heaved a sigh of relief as Chen Long and Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong clinched last-gasp semifinals places at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2019 today.
Facing a must-win situation, Chen Long defeated Chou Tien Chen in his final group match to secure his last-four place from men’s singles Group B.
Chen, who went down in straight games to Anthony Ginting yesterday, expertly handled Chou’s wares to deny him in a close second game finish, 21-15 21-19. Chou, who admitted he had yet to solve Chen’s challenge in nine matches, would have hoped for Viktor Axelsen to beat Anthony Ginting in the last Group B match, but that possibility was nullified when Axelsen retired 13-6 down against Ginting, citing a strained right hamstring muscle and pain in his right groin.
That meant General Competition Regulation 16.2.5 came into play: “If illness, injury, disqualification or other unavoidable hindrance prevents a player/pair completing all the group matches, all the results of that player/pair shall be deleted. Retiring during a match shall be considered to be not completing all group matches.”
With all of Axelsen’s match results deleted, Ginting, Chen Long and Chou Tien Chen were level with one win and one loss each. However, Ginting topped the group with the best game difference of 1, followed by Chen Long who had a game difference of 0. Chou missed out as his game difference was -1.
It was a close call for Zheng and Huang, who, like Chen Long, were in a must-win situation. They started off well enough, taking the opening game quickly, but Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti found their rhythm and it was neck-and-neck in the third.
When they blew two match points – Zheng and Huang misjudged the shuttle at the same spot on consecutive points – the Indonesians suddenly had the momentum, but Huang stepped up as she had done so many times previously, and found the winner at the net. A final mishit from Jordan gave the Chinese the win they were looking for, 21-8 15-21 22-20.
“They’ve beaten us twice in a row and were playing quick once again,” said Huang. “We were a bit anxious when having two match points, but we composed ourselves in time.”
Zheng and Huang finished second in Group B behind Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino, who sealed their third win on the trot beating Hafiz Faizal/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja 21-14 21-12.