SUDIRMAN CUP 2011 Play-offs – Singapore to the fore of 2

The afternoon of the 6th day of the 2011 Sudirman Cup was like a dose of stimulant to the teams in group 2 and 3. Today, it was no longer […]

The afternoon of the 6th day of the 2011 was like a dose of stimulant to the teams in group 2 and 3. Today, it was no longer just points-accumulating ties, but the impromptu win-or-lose play-offs, where they battled for a good standing in their division. France may have failed to make the best out of their earned chance, but it was satisfying enough for them to wash off the shame they endured two years ago.

By Ooi Ee Lyn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Singapore, France, Hong Kong and Canada had all marched into the arena with their racket bags this afternoon and grabbed positions 13th to 16th, in order, to put a happy ending to their eventful journey in Qingdao.

On the TV court, Singapore’s best mixed pair of Chayut Triyachart / Yao Lei stunned Baptiste Careme / Audrey Fontaine in two games of 21-9, earning an appetizer for the team while demolishing France’s hope of seeing déjà vu of their marvelous play Thursday afternoon.

Without the shield of monsieur Brice Leverdez, who toppled Hong Kong star Chan Yan Kit yesterday, Singapore’s Derek Wong speared right through the defense of France’s world #51 Matthieu Lo to top up to the tiny island’s appetizing start.

However, Baptiste Careme returned to the court less than an hour later with Sylvain Grosjean and strolled pass Terry Yeo Zhao Jiang / Chayut Triyachart in the first game. While taken hostage by the Singaporeans in the second game, Careme / Grosjean made a sharp demi-tour and came back in the deciding game to finish up the match 21-14, 19-21, 21-15 with the first point for France making the score 1-2 for the moment.

Singapore’s world #28 women’s singles Gu Juan may have swallowed failures against France’s badminton queen Pi Hongyan, but her victories over top players – namely China’s golden flower Zhu Lin, Korea’s Bae Youn Joo and three of Indonesia’s best – have added a mysterious fog of danger to her name.

After arresting the first game from Pi, Gu Juan saw the French – who has only just returned from an injury – stealing the second as if eager to gobble the tie-breaker to rescue the team from their 1-2 crisis. However, it seemed that Gu was adamant she must not break the Sentosa – meaning peace and tranquility in Malay – of the team, as she hopped up and finished the third game in her favour with a 3-1 victory for the team and a beautiful full-stop to the play-off tie.

Hong Kong, hou sai lei!

Hong Kong had a frightful start in their play-off against Canada to decide 15th position and it almost perfectly hinted that they were not going to be able to return from such a fall.

Hong Kong’s world ranked #149 men’s doubles, Lo Lok Kei / Chan Tsz Kit and Chan Tsz Ka, their second women’s singles – after Yip Pui Yin – were not equal to the task of knocking off, respectively, Adrian Liu / Derrick Ng and Michelle Li as the young Canadians’ straight game victories stuffed Hong Kong into a threatening block of 0-2 in the tie.

As Chan Yan Kit – disappointed by his loss to France’s Leverdez yesterday – marched onto the court with a brand new spirit to face the showdown against Stephan Wojcikiewicz, he fed the team its first point of the day by defeating the Canadian 21-11, 21-12.

Touching up with the good news were Tse Ying Suet / Poon Lok Yan who took on Michelle Li and Alex Bruce in the women’s doubles and exuberantly claimed it in straight games.

Hong Kong’s amazing comeback formed a 2-2 deadly deadlock that saw mixed doubles Wong Wai Hong / Chau Hoi Wah up against the Canadian team represented by Adrian Liu / Joycelyn Ko. After a mere 18-minute spar, Wong / Chau succeeded in winding up the great turn-over for Hong Kong as they bruised Liu / Ko with a swerving 21-7, 21-10 victory.

Canada then rusticated to the 16th place as Hong Kong proudly accepts position 15 in the Sudirman Cup 2011 as the most favourable reward of their remarkable reverse show, overflowing with their hou sai lei – formidable, as the Cantonese-speaking people would exclaim – performance.

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About Ee-Lyn Ooi