TUC 2008 Day 2 – China Goes Friendly as Denmark Steals Wild Card from Malaysia

In a hotly contested Thomas and Uber Cup finals afternoon, the Thomas Cup witnessed 2 whitewashes by 2 of the badminton powerhouses, China and Indonesia while the Uber Cup was […]

ImageIn a hotly contested Thomas and Uber Cup finals afternoon, the Thomas Cup witnessed 2 whitewashes by 2 of the badminton powerhouses, China and Indonesia while the Uber Cup was a bittersweet affair with China going friendly against Germany and the Malaysian ladies coming so close to making history, only to have their wild card stolen by an inspired Danish team.

By Jan Lin, reporting live from Senayan Stadium, Jakarta. Photos: Badmintonphoto.com (live)

They may be everybody’s enemy in the 2008 Uber Cup but that isn’t stopping the Chinese ladies from being friendly. Their male compatriots may have been issuing whitewashes, but the Chinese ladies bequeathed a point to their German counterparts this afternoon as “a token of appreciation”.

The Chinese ladies stormed to a 3-0 victory against Germany as their 3 singles – Xie Xingfang, Zhu Lin and Jiang Yanjiao – each took home a point for their team in straight game wins. A fallen bulb from the overhead lights compelled China’s head coach, Li Yongbo, to call for a walkover for the last 2 doubles matches.

After a thorough discussion with the opposition, it was mutually decided between the 2 coaches to present each other a “token of appreciation” to have the remaining 2 points split between the 2 teams. China will still finish on top of Group W, with Germany in 2nd place and the USA at the bottom.

While these 2 Uber teams were having a relatively amiable time, 2 other Uber teams on the adjacent court were drowning in blood, sweat and tears.  Malaysia took on Denmark in the other Uber Cup tie this afternoon. Both teams were not only vying to finish on top of the group, but the winner of the tie would also stand a very good chance progressing to the semi-final.

The Malaysian ladies started the tie very positively, with world #10 Wong Mew Choo (pictured right) nicking the 1st game in her tussle against in-form Tine Rasmussen (WR #7). Tine responded immediately in the 2nd game, maintaining a healthy 4- to 5-point lead until the 15-point mark. Wong courageously clawed back to overtake Rasmussen 16-15 and the duo were neck-and-neck until the score was leveled at 19-all.

ImageTine’s desire to even the match score gave her that bit of edge as she took the 2nd game 21-19 and eventually the tiebreaker 21-14 where Wong played catchup for most part. Despite trailing 1-0, Malaysia was down but not beaten. Malaysia’s world #10 women’s doubles pair of Wong Pei Tty and Chin Eei Hui held their nerves to reignite the glimmer of hope for their team when they defeated Denmark’s scratch pair of Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Marie Ropke in straight games 22-20, 21-16.

A victory over Denmark this afternoon would have potentially engraved the 2008 Malaysian Uber team into record books. The winner of this tie would be given a “wild card” to the semi-final, as the winner will face a relatively easy quarter-final tie against either Germany or South Africa on Wednesday.

2008 has definitely appeared to be Malaysia’s best bet of creating history, as the Malaysian ladies have never achieved beyond a top 8 showing at the Uber Cup. With so much at stake, Malaysia’s 2nd singles Julia Wong was expected to deliver the crucial point to put Malaysia 2-1 ahead.

The expectation seemed to have been overbearing for the world #29, who crumbled twice at the ending stages of her 2nd and 3rd games to her world #61 opponent Nanna Brosolat Jensen to lose by the cruel scores of 21-13, 19-21, 19-21.

“I was too nervous,” explained a beaten Wong, who was on the brink of tears as she was warming down after her heart-wrenching defeat.

The Danish team was psyched up by the surprise point from Nanna, and their 2nd doubles pair of Christinna Pedersen and Mie Schjott Kristensen (pictured top), ranked 45th in the world, took the court while Malaysia dished out a unique veteran-junior 2nd doubles combination of Malaysian team captain Lim Pek Siah and a half of the 2007 world junior mixed doubles champion, Ng Hui Lin.

The fired-up Danish pair gave the Malaysian ladies little chance to gain complete control of the game. In 38 minutes, the match was over in two games of 21-18 each and Denmark was handed the wild card to the semi-finals, while the Malaysians must fight on for theirs.

“Of course we are disappointed as we know that our chances [of progressing to the semi-final] are much slimmer now. We just have to stay together and remain positive as a team,” said the 28-year-old Malaysian skipper, Pek Siah, who trains at independent training centre KLRC.

With the depth of the 2008 Danish Uber team, it is unlikely that they will not survive her quarter-final ordeal against South Africa or Germany. Malaysia, on the other hand, will have to first face Japan in a potentially feisty play-off tomorrow afternoon.

2008 TUC Day 2 Afternoon Results:

Thomas Cup Group A

China 5 Canada 0

Thomas Cup Group D

Indonesia 5 Germany 0

Uber Cup Group W

China 4 Germany 1

Uber Cup Group Y

Malaysia 2 Denmark 3

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