HONG KONG OPEN 2012 R16 – A show of quality from new and old

Viktor Axelsen was disappointed in losing to Sho Sasaki after losing a comfortable lead as the men’s doubles saw quality prevail in some tight games with Koo and Tan of […]

Viktor Axelsen was disappointed in losing to Sho Sasaki after losing a comfortable lead as the men’s doubles saw quality prevail in some tight games with Koo and Tan of Malaysia all the way to the semi-finals.

By Thibault Bluy and Xavier Lee, Badzine Correspondent live in Hong Kong. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Viktor Axelsen of Denmark showed his nerves, as he was unable to see out games against Sho Sasaki (pictured) of Japan. Despite starting well with a lead of 17-12 and holding three game points in the first game, he appeared to tense up and a couple of unprovoked errors let Sasaki take the first game 22-20 after a long rally, concluded by a lucky roll over in favour of the Japanese.

Later the Danish player commented, “I do not know why I did not continue to play the same way I played in the first part of the first set. I tensed up. I think I tried to kill the shuttle too fast and I played the shuttle too hard. I should have made clever shots, but I did not do that when I was leading and that is why I lost.”

Axelsen tried to recover in the second game but was unable to take the game to a decider in the face of Sho’s control, leading a frustrated Axelsen to comment, “Of course I am disappointed, I could have won. I hate losing. I definitely should have played with a bigger eye and a clearer mind. I lost against a very good player. But I won against him last time, so I knew it was possible and I definitely had my chance today. That is how it is sometimes.  This was not my day today.”

For Sasaki, the step is even higher tomorrow, as he will challenge the second seed of the tournament, Chen Long.  The Japanese shuttler also cemented his place in the Finals next month as his two remaining pursuers, Ajay Jayaram and Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, were both eliminated on Thursday.

In the men’s doubles, English pair Andrew Ellis and Chris Adcock (pictured)were very close to taking the first game against the top seeds Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong. They held a game point against the Malaysians, but tight net play and a long series of attack and defence saw the Malaysians win the rally and take the first game some points after, 25-23.

From then on it was easier as Koo and Tan established their authority, taking the second game 21-17.

“Unfortunately we could not quite close it out. We had a few chances, but after that we made too many mistakes,” said a very disappointed Chris Adcock after the match. “We definitely could have taken them today, but again we made too many mistakes we should not make.”

Meanwhile the Korean men’s doubles pair of Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun (pictured)provided more classy badminton as they met 8th seeds Angga Pratama and Ryan Agung Saputra of Indonesia. The match provided many theatrical and exciting rallies, which included Lee Yong Dae defending the whole court alone as his partner Ko dived off court to save a shot. The newly formed Korean pair pulled through in style winning 21-18, 21-16.

Unfortunately for the Koreans, Ko suffered a slight hip injury and this prompted them to withdraw, sending Koo/Tan all the way to the semi-finals.  Meanwhile, Malaysia’s other pair, Hoon Thien How and Tan Wee Kiong, made their way into the quarter-finals after the Koreans’ win clinched for them their berth in the Superseries Finals, as their last chasers were Pratama and Agung Saputra.

The mixed draw also saw business as usual from a class pair, as top Chinese seeds Xu Chen and Ma Jin won comfortably. A vocal group of Chinese supporters spurred the pair on to a straightforward victory as they overcame India’s Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N. Siki Reddy 21-16, 21-10 in just over half an hour.

Click here for complete second round results

About Thibault Bluy