Taipei, Oct. 17 (CNA) Taiwan’s world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen (周天成) smashed his way into the semi-finals in the men’s singles at the 2020 Danisa Denmark Open on Friday after the badminton player suffered a seven-month hiatus in international competition because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The second-seeded Chou had an impressive run since the start of his campaign and proved to be a formidable opponent against fifth-seeded former champion Srikanth Kidambi of India by pocketing a 20-22, 21-13, 21-16 victory in a quarter final match that lasted 62 minutes.
Kidambi, ranked No. 14 in the world, previously clinched the men’s singles title at the Denmark Open in 2017.
A slower start to warm up helped give the Indian a three-point 7-10 lead, before Chou caught up with five consecutive points raising the score to 12-10.
The Taiwanese shuttler showed his physical prowess by moving strongly around the court giving pressure to his opponent, who made himself exposed after the backhand.
Chou did his best to not let Kidambi claim the net as the Indian tried to pin the Taiwanese ace in the backcourt before setting himself up for a powerful smash. Good defense played by the pair turned into long rallies, with one counting as many as 45 shots.
Despite Chou started to polish his game towards the end of the first set, it was Kidambi who pocketed the opening round 20-22.
Chou put on a stunning performance in the second set by refusing to play to the tune of his opponent, creating good angles to make cross court shots.
Further stepping up the pace, Chou made power-packed smashes that put Kidambi’s stamina to the test, while a few too many unforced errors from the Indian’s racquet practically handed the set to Chou, who made quick cross court saves to keep the shuttle in play.
Chou won the second round 21-13, before moving onto the deciding set, where he stuck to his game plan of digging in deep and taking sharp shots in the front court.
In an almost replay of the second set, Chou dominated the deciding round 21-16 with the last shot landing on the line in a cross-court shot before he gave out his customary roar to seal his victory.
The latest win gave Chou a head-to-head record of 6-1 against his opponent, which dates as far back as the pair’s first-ever matchup at the Hong Kong Open in 2014, where Kidambi pocketed the win.
Chou will next face third-seeded world No. 3 Anders Antonsenin of Denmark in the semi-finals Saturday.
The BWF World Tour Super 750 Danisa Denmark Open 2020, which is being held Oct. 13-18 at the Odense Sports Park in Odense, carries a total purse of US$750,000 (NT$21.56 million).
The Denmark Open marked the return of international badminton after nearly all international tournaments were either canceled or postponed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on recommendations from the Danish government and health authorities, the tournament is being held in a bubble system, where players are tested before entering the bubble. Players are also subject to another test and regular temperature screenings whilst in the bubble.
During an interview Thursday, Chou said despite the long break from playing in a major tournament, he was still able to play at an international level.
When asked what his goal is at the tournament, Chou replied “of course the championship.”