AUSTRALIAN OPEN SF – Fancy seeing you on Sunday

Blink or leave your seat to buy fast food and it would turn out to have a different outcome from what you were initially led to believe in more than half the semi-final matches at the 2022 Australian Open.

By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Sydney.  Photos: Luis Veniegra / Badmintonphoto (live)

WS: Gregoria Mariska Tungjung (INA) beat Han Yue (CHN) 18-21, 21-16, 21-14

It was a surprise that world #12 Han Yue, who gave the runabout to a running style player like Nozomi Okuhara 24 hours earlier, couldn’t keep up with Tunjung who isn’t known for that prowess.

However, the Indonesian was willing to run to address net shots early including the ones half the time when she was desperately in defensive mode.

Sublime angles on defence were repeatedly used by Tunjung to gradually wear down the Chinese winner of the recently Hylo Open, and reach her first final at a HSBC World Tour tournament.

MS: Shi Yu Qi (CHN) beat Kodai Naraoka (JAP) 21-16, 16-21, 21-19

World #15 Kodai Naraoka cobbled together roughly three spurts of three points during the final game to get ahead 19-18 but missed a routine cross-court dropshop after masterfully outmanoueuvering his significantly taller and more powerful adversary.

The missed Japanese shot was the right choice in that classic situation and gave way to Shi’s own third batch of three consecutive points to seal the match. More important than reaching the final was proving Shi Yu Qi’s relevance on the current international badminton scene by removing three of the new batch (Naraoka, Loh, and Weng) and six years after claiming his first Superseries title.

If you’ve missed the playing style of women’s singles world #1 Akane Yamagchi, or ever wondered if its effectiveness is transposable to the men’s game, then you have your answer. Naraoka’s production is 80% identical, down to the jaw-dropping net retrievals frequently picked up from almost ground level.

Shi Yu Qi was nevertheless confident the sliced dropshot to land closer to the forecourt was the right tactic even though Naraoka was addressing many of them.

10-10 in the first game was the best rally and demonstrated how long it took Naraoka to acclimatise to Shi’s most dangerous shot, the heavy and sharp off-cross court smash.

Naraoka has to wait a little longer for his first win at this level or higher, having come runner-up three times so far and very nearly advanced to the same depth in the draw in Sydney.

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