NEW ZEALAND OPEN 2014 Day 1 – The White tiger rises

Former world #1 Lee Hyun Il was the winner of one of a trio of exciting matches on opening day of the 2014 SKYCITY New Zealand Open Grand Prix. By […]

Former world #1 Lee Hyun Il was the winner of one of a trio of exciting matches on opening day of the 2014 SKYCITY .

By Kira Rin, Badzine Correspondent live in Auckland.  Photos: Jiajing and Jiacen Lu (live)

Opening with a couple rounds of qualifiers and then a round 64 match meant that some of the men’s singles players found themselves playing up to 3 matches in a day. However, this did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm for the sport, as they put forward their best foot to earn the right to play in the main draw.

For the spectators in attendance, the highlight of the day came in a set of 3 late afternoon matches, each building up tension to the next. First up was Lin Yu Hsien of Chinese Taipei, who had a nail-biting 3rd game ending with Lin saving no fewer than six match points. The ability to counter attack pushes and turn his own attacks into the flow ensured his victory over Indonesian Ivanudin Rifan Fauzin.

Next up was the match between local #1 Michelle Chan and Chiang Mei Hui of Chinese Taipei. Both games proved to be almost tit for tat, with the two players exchanging leads until the heart stopping moments of 20-all. Even then with all the tension, it took willpower, retrieval skills, and a lot of luck before Michelle was able to advance into the next round

Battle of the two tigers

Finally, it would be an epic match of tigers, with Lee Hyun Il (pictured top), the white tiger coming back to hunt again, and Yogendran Krishnan (pictured right), the tropical tiger, hunting the common prey of a win to survive into the next round.

Yogendran was the first to pounce, using his speed to reach and hit steep smashes. Even when overturning Yogendran’s 3-point lead to take his own, Lee was taken aback at the ferocity of the shots, often unable to find answers to the fast smashes. With pressure from smashes and quick drives, and a couple of errors from Lee, Yogendran was able to get the first taste of the match.

However, Lee had more experience of playing at the very top level of badminton, having 2 Olympic semi-finals under his belt. The wise white tiger had a rich body of tricks to draw from, and had the calmness of a seasoned mind to anticipate and return ferocious attacks from the tropical tiger.

No matter how much Yogendran clawed or slipped his way around the court, it would prove a futile endeavor as all shots were returned, sometimes with interest. Constant rallying and strategic cross smashes enabled Lee to bite off the lion’s share of the prey, surviving into the next round.

Click here for complete Day 1 results

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