ASIAN CHAMPS 2007 – Thaibreakers

Since the BWF’s inception of the new 21-point scoring system, the dynamics of the game have taken quite a turn and tiebreakers have become the order of the day. The […]

ImageSince the BWF’s inception of the new 21-point scoring system, the dynamics of the game have taken quite a turn and tiebreakers have become the order of the day. The tiebreaker trend was spotted at the quarterfinals of the 2007 BAC Championship in Johor Bahru with half of the quarterfinal matches stretching into tiebreakers. But of all the tiebreakers last night, it was the Thai women’s doubles’ intense tiebreaker that had spectators at the edge of their seats!

by J Lin reporting live from Bandaraya Stadium, Johor Bahru. Photos : Badmintonphoto (archives)

After trumping the first seeds in straight sets in the round of 16, the unseeded world number 18 Duang-Anong Aroonkesorn and Kunchala Voravichaikul (photo) of Thailand inch yet another step closer in their title quest by ousting China’s Ma Jin and Wang Xiao Li in a match that was concluded with an exhilarating tiebreaker.

China’s prowess in the women’s doubles category is a known fact in the badminton circuit. While Ma Jin and Wang Xiao Li may be new names to add to the Chinese supremacy in this category, they certainly did not behave like they were any less superior to the established names in the Chinese camp.

Taking the first set at a convincing 21-14, it seemed like the Chinese had the semifinal spot in the bag but the Thai pair went into the second set clearly hungrier for success. After taking the halftime lead at 11-9, the Thais played with new-found confidence to take the set 21-17.

It was a neck-and-neck tiebreaker and it really went down to who wanted the win more. In this case, it was the Thais. Equally, with so little separating the two pairs, even one unforced error could take a toll on the pair’s rhythm.

If there was any chemistry between the China girls, the Thai girls definitely showed theirs was thicker. Kunchala, whose diligence in this match was paying off handsomely, had a careless tap into the net mid-game which clearly unsettled her but encouragement from her calm and composed partner Duang-Anong saw Kunchala bouncing back to take the Thais into the halftime lead of 11-10.

The Thais held match point first but China cancelled it within seconds to take the score line to the evil 20-all and not long later, 21-all but it was the Thais who dug deeper to break the deadlock. Kunchala fell to the ground with a shriek of sheer jubilee after the Thais claimed the point that was to seal the set and the match at 23-21.

No last minute turn-around for last minute fill-ins

Malaysia’s young talent Goh Liu Ying and Woon Khe Wei entered the tournament as fill-ins for their world number six compatriots Wong Pei Tty and Chin Eei Hui, who pulled out with a last minute injury.

ImageStarting the tournament at the 2nd seed sweetspot which belongs rightfully to their seniors, the Malaysian juniors knew this was their stage to display their Olympic ambitions. After their first round bye, the Malaysians started their quest with an understandably nervous start but took home a stunning victory in the round of 16 against Indonesia’s Maheswari Nitya Krishnicia and Melati Nadya 10-21, 21-17, 21-13.

In the quarterfinals, the 18-year old Woon’s tall stature together with her moments of brilliance was easily recognizable and there is definitely reason for their coach Rexy to consider exposing the talented girls to more international competition at this level in order to increase their offensive confidence in their games.

In a nutshell, the talented Malaysian girls went down to the unseeded Japanese Ogura Kumiko and Shiota Reiko (pictured) in the quarterfinals mainly because their smashes (or the lack thereof) were often counterattacked by their opponents.

Yet with sheer grit, Goh-Woon fought to the very very end and even came close to securing a last minute turn-around but Woon’s diving attempt to save a matchpoint which would have extended the set into deuce was denied as the girls went down to the Japanese by a whisker at 21-19.

The quarterfinal match involving 3/4 seeds Suetsuna Satoko and Maeda Miyuki was a paradoxical affair, with the Japanese coming close to a turn-around in both sets but being stopped just short. Up against yet another unseeded Chinese pair, Chen Shu and Zhao Yulei, the Japanese were not so lucky and went down in straight sets 19-21, 16-21 in a bitter battle.

The promising Chinese pair will now meet the tenacious Thai pair who have proven last night that they were more than capable of breaking Chinese hearts.

Full results

Live telecast of the semifinals in China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines and of the finals in China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Russia.

About Jan Lin