Lee Slips Past Antonsen – CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2017 – Day 2

Wily veteran Lee Hyun Il pulled off an impressive escape act against Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in the opening round of the CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2017 today.

Andersen nearly had the match wrapped up at 19-15 in the third game of their Men’s Singles opener, but Lee expertly worked his way out of the crisis, and before the Dane had figured out how to regain the initiative, he was out of the match 19-21 21-10 21-19.

“I really don’t know why I lost. I can’t believe that I threw that one away, leading 19-15 and suddenly it was 19-21. It’s extremely tough,” rued Antonsen, still unable to believe that the match had slipped his grasp.

“Of course he’s very experienced, he knows where to place the shuttle at the right moments. He was solid on the big points, I started making mistakes at 19-15; he was very calm at the end. Even though I’m younger, it’s bad to lose a match like this because I had it in my hands. I stressed a bit too much, was attacking too hard on everything, and just a bit in panic… my performance was not good enough.”

Antonsen’s senior compatriot and defending champion Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus had no trouble in navigating his first round – against Indian newcomer Siril Verma, who went down without much of a fight at 21-16 21-18.

Champions of the last two World Superseries, India’s Sai Praneeth and Kidambi Srikanth, both progressed to the second round without much fuss. While Srikanth outclassed Chinese Taipei qualifier Kan Chao Yu 21-13 21-16, Praneeth overcame the loss of the opening game against Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto, eventually coasting through 10-21 21-12 21-10.

“I knew he would be tough as he’s a rally kind of player,” Praneeth said. “I couldn’t adjust to the pace initially, he was playing fast. Once I started getting my smashes in, I felt better. Sometimes when I’m leading, I lose two-three points consecutively. I’m getting better at controlling it now.

“Singapore was a big tournament to win, obviously your confidence goes high. I won Thailand immediately after that. That was the real challenge…. and beating players like this (Sugiarto) will give me confidence.”

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for India as HS Prannoy, semi-finalist in Indonesia, crashed out to England’s Rajiv Ouseph.

Another casualty was No.5 seed Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark), whose heel injury returned to haunt him as he retired in the third game against Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting.

Mixed Doubles defending champions Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir, fresh from their exploits on home soil in Jakarta, were shot down 21-17 21-16 by Malaysia’s Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing (featured image).

The Indonesians failed to get any sort of rhythm and were chasing the Malaysians through the 39-minute encounter.

“We didn’t have time to recover since our win at the Indonesia Open (on Sunday), as we gave our 100 percent there,” said Ahmad. “We knew what we had to do and we needed to play faster, but my body was not supporting me. Our opponents also played well today, their defence was strong, and it was not easy to get points with one or two shots.”

No.4 seeds Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen (Denmark) looked a shadow of themselves in an untypical defeat to China’s Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping. The Danes were off the boil, appearing too rusty and committing far too many errors to trouble the Chinese during the 21-19 21-15 defeat.

In Men’s Doubles, fourth seeds and Olympic silver medallists Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong were shown the door in the opening round. The Malaysians were outplayed 16-21 21-13 21-13 by Japan’s Takuto Inoue/Yuki Kaneko.

Two other Japanese pairs progressed – Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda over India’s Sumeeth Reddy/Manu Attri and Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi over Thailand’s Supak Jomkoh/Pakin Kuna-Anuvit.

China’s Zhang Nan/Liu Cheng were a trifle lucky to survive as they survived two match points against Hong Kong’s Or Chin Chung/Tang Chun Man in a 67-minute affair: 21-18 20-22 23-21.

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Doubles to the Fore – Day 4: BCA Indonesia Open 2017

Two Indonesian Women’s Doubles pairs lifted the spirits of home fans last evening, triumphing over seeded rivals to reach the quarter-finals of the BCA Indonesia Open 2017.

After enduring the loss of some of their star players in the first round, local supporters warmly embraced the dogged performance of Della Destiara Haris and Rosyita Eka Putri Sari and then the heroics of Anggia Shitta Awanda and Ni Ketut Mahadewi Istarani (featured image) in marathon matches that lasted 90 minutes and 72 minutes respectively.

As they emerged from the rubble of their on-court wars, the Indonesians revelled in the reality that they had laid flat the stellar partnerships of the Luo twins from China – the No.6 seeds – and the No.4 seeds from Korea, Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan; last summer’s Olympic bronze medallists.

The feel-good factor in the Indonesian camp was heightened by the hosts’ certainty of quarter-final appearances in Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles with two all-Indonesia clashes. Rio 2016 gold medallists Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir won the latter contest, 21-17 22-20 against their team-mates Hafiz Faizal and Shela Devi Aulia. In a surprising outcome, Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto, got the better of Men’s Doubles No.8 seeds, Ricky Karanda Suwardi and Angga Pratama, 21-17 17-21 21-15.

However, it was the stand-out results of the Indonesian women’s pairs which took pride of place at Jakarta Convention Center. Haris and Sari came from a game down to defeat Luo Ying and Luo Yu (20-22 21-14 21-14) – raising their level to dominate the second and third games after losing a tight first game.

“It was a very long match. They played a lot of rallies so we needed to be patient. Tomorrow we’ll meet Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee, who just beat our friends, Greysia (Polii) and Apriyani (Rahayu). We’ll discuss our strategy with our coach and the other players. We will need a lot of stamina for that match,” said Haris.

Meanwhile, Awanda and Istarani were thrilled to defeat Jung and Shin – 21-15 12-21 21-15 – for the second time and lift the profile of Indonesia’s Women’s Doubles players.

“Our motivation is to bring Women’s Doubles to the standard of our Men’s Doubles and to be among the best,” said Awanda.

She and her partner face Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand for a semi-final place. The other Women’s Doubles matches pit No.2 seeds, Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Christinna Pedersen of Denmark against China’s No.5 seeds, Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan, and Japanese team-mates Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota and No. 8 seeds, Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto, against each other.

Men’s Doubles too received a shake-up with No.5 seeds Chai Biao/Hong Wei falling to talented Chinese Taipei tandem, Lee Jhe-Huei and Lee Yang (21-17 17-21 21-19).

“We had not been playing well before we came here so we are happy. This is a great performance for us. The first three shots in each point were really important,” said the winners.

The Lees play Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen of China in the quarter-finals while another Chinese duo, Liu Cheng/Zhang Nan face Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda. Indonesia’s Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto tackle Thailand’s Kittinupong Kedren/Dechapol Puavaranukroh. The fourth clash is a European blockbuster as Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov of Russia meet No.2 seeds, Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen of Denmark.

In Mixed Doubles, Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir face Malaysia’s Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing while another Malaysian partnership, Chan Peng Soon/Peck Yen Wei, battle Chinese Taipei’s Lu Ching Yao/Chiang Kai Hsin. Top seeds, Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen (China), will be up against Denmark’s Mathias Christiansen/Sara Thygesen and Liu Yuchen/Tang Jinhua will oppose England’s No.5 seeds, Chris and Gabby Adcock.

“It’s amazing. This is our first time reaching a Superseries Premier quarter-finals together. This is really big for us. The drift is a bit of a challenge but not a huge problem. You just have to think more about what you want to do with the shuttle,” said an elated Thygesen.

Danes Dig Deep – Day 4 (Session 2): TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017

As has so often been the case, Denmark’s tried and tested Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles warriors saw their country through perilous waters tonight to the safe harbour of the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 quarter-finals.

For the second successive night, sub-group 1D – dubbed the ‘group of death’ – provided high drama inside the Gold Coast Sports & Leisure Centre as the No.2 seeds saw their progression in the event in danger after losses in Mixed Doubles and Men’s Singles. That gave Indonesia a 2-0 advantage in a tie they needed win by at least 4-1 to have chance of ousting either Denmark or India. Knowing they had to win two of the five games, Denmark’s veterans Mathias Boe (featured image) and Carsten Mogensen produced an incredible rear-guard fight to beat Men’s Doubles boy wonders, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, and then left it up to their Women’s Doubles peers, Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, to do the rest.

It mattered not that Indonesia won the tie 3-2 – the result was enough, not only to see Denmark into the last eight, but also to ensure they topped the group and secured one of the seeded places in the knockout draw, thus avoiding the likes of China, Japan and Chinese Taipei.

They are pitted against Thailand while defending champions, China, face India. The other battles for semi-final places will feature group-stage rematches as Japan and Malaysia were drawn against each other as were Chinese Taipei and Korea.

“I think we have a good chance of winning the match against Thailand but, as you can see from today, all matches are going to be close. Most teams will have to fight for every match we play. We cannot say anything for certain,” noted Denmark’s team manager, Jens Meibom.

Malaysia’s Technical Director Morten Frost was equally cautious about any predictions after his team were drawn against Japan – to whom they lost 2-3 earlier in the last group-stage encounters – and also in China’s half of the draw.

“Japan is one of the toughest teams. We will have to see if we can reverse the result,” he noted.

Japan’s Head Coach Park Joo Bong agreed the rematch would be testing but surmised the “bottom half (of the draw) is also strong” and that the teams “are fairly even”. His Chinese Taipei counterpart, Chang Jeng Shyuang, would have preferred to face another team but resigned himself to having to beat Korea again. It is a clash which Korean coach Ji Hyun Marr assessed as “50-50”.

Meanwhile, in the evening’s epic battle, the tide seemed to be turning Indonesia’s way as Gideon and Sukamuljo grabbed two match points versus the evergreen Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen. Somehow, the experienced Danes coolly withstood their rivals – saving a third match before forcing a decider which went to the wire; the European champions levelling the scores from 10-15 down and then outlasting the young guns in a tense shoot-out that had fans riveted to the action.

Boe and Mogensen displayed nerves of steel as they lost a match point, then saved a match point and duelled with their opponents around the net for the last two vital points; Boe smashing to bring them a second match point and Gideon succumbing with a backhand into the net to seal the amazing Danish comeback: 16-21 24-22 23-21.

Indonesia’s diminutive Women’s Singles player, Fitriani Fitriani, then wrested the tie for her nation, beating Mia Blichfeldt, 24-22 15-21 14-21. Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto had won Mixed Doubles against Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen (21-12 21-13) while Anthony Ginting capitalised on Viktor Axelsen’s meltdown to snatch Men’s Singles (13-21 21-17 21-14). However, having perished 1-4 to India yesterday, today’s heroics were not enough to save Indonesia as Pedersen and Rytter Juhl conquered Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu, 21-18 13-21 21-13.

“We were under pressure after Viktor lost. It was a very tough group and I am very happy we qualified as No.1,” said a relieved Meibom.

On the adjoining court, Japan’s leading lights guided them past Malaysia in sub-group 1C with wins in Men’s Doubles (Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda), Women’s Singles (Akane Yamaguchi) and Women’s Doubles (Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi). Men’s Singles star, Lee Chong Wei and Mixed Doubles pair, Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing, were the Malaysian successes.

In sub-group 2B, USA defeated Austria, 3-2, with Jamie Subandhi triumphing in Women’s Singles and Mixed Doubles. Vietnam cemented their place atop sub-group 2A, trouncing Scotland 4-1; Do Tuan Duc starring in Mixed Doubles and Men’s Doubles.

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