AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2012 R32 – Fresh faces fail 2nd round interviews

Separating the wheat from the chaff begins right from the first round in a Super Series but it happens in the second at a Grand Prix Gold. By Aaron Wong, […]

Separating the wheat from the chaff begins right from the first round in a Super Series but it happens in the second at a Gold.

By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live from Sydney.  Photos: Andrew Greenway, Courtesy of Badminton Australia (live)

The morning’s marathon women’s singles matches played between the Japanese and Indonesia resulted in one victory apiece for the two countries. Japan’s Sayako Sato jumps ahead to the quarter-finals care of a walkover granted by Portugal’s Telma Santos, and Indonesia’s Aprilia Yuswandari gets to taste another plate full of Japanese, this time Ai Goto.

The afternoon saw Hong Kong’s three men having their turn for about an hour each on court with both elder statesmen Hu Yun and Chan Yan Kit progressing through.

Fizzled instead of sizzled

New kids on the block Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki and Malaysia’s Liew Daren failed to live up to the hype about them.  Wong was not able to justify his 8th seeding and went down to little-known Thai Suppanyu Avihingsanon 22-20, 18-21, 21-17.

Sho Sasaki comprehensively dismissed Liew Daren 21-9, 21-9.  In theory, what should have been the match of the afternoon due to its upset potential, turned out to be an ordinary day at the office for the defending champion from Japan.

Sasaki played what can best be described as his routine game plan of predominantly patient flat clears, flat drop shots, drives, and one heavy smash when it counted, and Liew fell into all the traps laid out for him, so much so that by the middle of the second set, he drooped his head at least twice, thus signalling his resignation because he did not know the answers to the homework due today.

Old hand vs. old legs

For a seventeen-year-old, Ratchanok Intanon played like an old hand at the game against former world number four, Yao Jie, now aged in her thirties.

The Thai teenager was happy to rally point for point until 20-all in the opening game before showing her pedigree as three-time World Junior Champion to nab the next two points with purposeful smashes down the Dutch woman’s forehand sideline.

Well into the second game, the Thai teenager seemed to be toying with her opponent by persisting to trade strokes with no sense of urgency until the rallies became drawn out affairs.  Three quarters into proceedings, the same thing happened except this time Yao also gifted a few netshot unforced errors to eventually let Ratchanok through 22-20, 21-15 to meet China’s Wang Lin in the next round.

No worries, mate

One of the two greatest women’s doubles players since the start of millenium, Huang Sui, returned to international badminton competition after a three-year hiatus.  She was relaxed and clearly enjoying being back on court, partnering Tang Hetian.

It was always going to be a long shot for Huang Sui’s Australian debut to be more than a “Hi! Bye!” affair since she was drawn against current world number 9 pair Chien Yu Chin / Cheng Wen Hsing (TPE) and the new pair are not yet more than the sum of their parts.  Huang/Tang did show a glimpse of their class by reaching the 11-point interval first in the second game.

Post match, Tang Hetian talked about the classic doubles issue of who should take the middle shot.  “Oh! Yes. That. Well…we’re experimenting and still working it out.  Our training together was too short to be able to win today but feels good.”

Huang chimed in, in Mandarin, “(And) I’m getting used to a left-handed partner too,” and her countenance was a true Aussie “No worries, mate” expression.

To the question on everyone’s lips, she courteously replied “I don’t know” about future plans in international badminton.

Huang did not see the next question coming.  “You do know that the world would love to see you back on the competition scene?”  She flashed her famous eyes creased warm smile and could only blurt out “Thank you, thank you!” and you could see her enjoying realising that a lot of people still remember her fondly.

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Aaron Wong

About Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong only ever coveted badminton's coolest shot - a reverse backhand clear. He is renowned for two other things: 1) Writing tournament previews that adjust the focus between the panorama of the sport's progress, down to the microscopic level of explaining the striking characteristics of players; 2) Dozing off during men's doubles at the London Olympic Games. Contact him at: aaron @