AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2014 Finals – In the realm of geniuses

The organisers of the inaugural Australian Superseries scheduled the best finals discipline for last. The men’s singles match was the only one of the day that wasn’t sealed in straight […]

The organisers of the inaugural Australian scheduled the best finals discipline for last. The men’s singles match was the only one of the day that wasn’t sealed in straight games without extra points.

By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Sydney.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

Five key situations

China’s two-time Olympic and five-time World Champion Lin Dan (pictured) added another historic feather to his cap by taking victory in his event over Indonesia’s Simon Santoso at the ’s debut as a Superseries, 22-24, 21-16, 21-7.

In the realm of geniuses, what separates the victor from the vanquished has less to do with pure technical skills. Rather, how quickly one adapts and how successfully one manages the following five-sure-to occur situations will differentiate the players and shape their destinies: learning from mistakes just made; changing sides; being behind in the score; lacking shuttle control; and when self-consciousness invades.

So it happened that China’s current Olympic and World Champion couldn’t match the sharpness of Simon Santoso of Indonesia, as became evident in the first game. Santoso set the standard from the get-go, playing a lot smarter than Lin has been used to seeing in his other opponents. Santoso consistently produced subtle variations in shot execution and audacity of shot selection, and he routinely demonstrated he could see a third option of where to hit when a half opportunity lob presented itself, all adding up to a lot more calculations required by the mind of his opponent.

Finding that he was unable to impose his own way, Lin changed tact mid-way to make this a secondary rather than primary goal.  Instead, the Chinese star bought time for himself through a conservative arsenal of shots, thereby getting into as little trouble as possible in order to keep the gap in scores between them to a minimum. Lin Dan’s huge flings in handing back the shuttle to Santoso to serve gave insight into his dissatisfied state of mind in the opener, that losing this match genuinely crossed his mind unlike when Sho Sasaki secured the first game against him at the Asian Badminton Championships a few months ago.

To the Indonesian’s credit, he was not repeating the same replies whenever Lin produced a winner, as in the second instance Lin crossed the shuttle at the net Santoso didn’t reply again with a net tumble but made himself move quicker to address the shuttle as a flat push up the line. There was no doubt that both men were playing intelligently but Lin lost the first game to a clearly better Santoso; nevertheless he left the opponent in no doubt that he was in strong form too.

Santoso’s notching up unforced errors on clears and smashes soon after switching sides, to a significant degree, gave Lin the second game by letting him off the hook as well as the confidence boost he needed to unleash his finest shots, which the crowd lapped up. Had Santoso continued to play to the same consistency in either of the next two games, Lin might have played less freely but the tables turned and never did turn back.

Like in the 2012 final against Chen Jin where he had similarly held the upper hand, loss of shuttle control after changing sides caused Santoso to derail, allowing his opponent to come back stronger.  The Indonesian can learn a lot from how his opponent in the Australian final managed in the first game to stick things out until composure came and sacrificing few points in the process.

Three weeks, three Superseries titles!

In the men’s doubles, Korea’s Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured above) cemented their place in history too by winning three consecutive Superseries titles, including a Premier, across three calender weeks.

Tsai Chia Hsin / Lee Sheng Mu of Chinese Taipei warmed into the match more and more against this particular Korean combination but not quickly enough and went down 14-21, 18-21. This outcome bodes well for the underdogs in future meetings for the four men but today the Koreans smashed too effectively and the their opponents framed many attempted defensive returns, though less and less as the match went on.

Beaten by the occasion

In mixed doubles and women’s doubles, the big occasion seemed to get the better of the underdogs Germany and Japan respectively.

The Germans Birgit Michels / Michael Fuchs had to settle for runner-up for the second time this month when Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (pictured), whom they defeated at the Japan Open Superseries took revenge today. From the European’s point of view, it was a stop-start affair, unlike how they played up until this point in Sydney. The Koreans, on the other hand, were buoyed by the natural effervescence that the man in the team, Ko Sung Hyun, brings to court on every occasion whilst nervousness cramped their opponents; thus the former avenged themselves, 21-16, 21-17.

The current Olympic champions Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei similarly to the Korean men’s doubles, overpowered their opponents of today Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi of Japan, 21-15, 21-9. Unfortunately, the Japanese weren’t able to find the switch to their strategic minds that brought them this far in this tournament and they instead spent their time on court fumbling in the dark to find their range so it was not a problem of fitness.

My Seventh!

Although she was trying to, Spain’s Carolina Marin could not rock Saina Nehwal (pictured) of India in the women’s singles. The Spaniard was successful with individual stroke winners but couldn’t string points together.

Nehwal who played cautiously in the semi-final against Wang Shixian,reverted to her usual power smashing ways on Sunday and that was a significant aspect that stopped Marin’s progress in the final, 21-18, 21-11 and handed the Indian her seventh career Superseries title.

“I didn’t think I’d be playing today because of blisters on my feet. I had to ask my physiotherapist at the start of the day whether it was fine,” said a relieved Nehwal in the mixed zone.

“I don’t know how I feel exactly about this win right now.  Maybe I will in a few days time. After 2012, there was a lot of talk about me no longer winning Superseries and that did affect my confidence. The improvement is what I’m interested in and I’m not really concerned about my world ranking.”

Final results
XD: Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) [6] beat Michael Fuchs / Birgit Michels (GER)  21-16, 21-17
WD: Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) [5] beat Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [2]  21-15, 21-9
WS: Saina Nehwal (IND) [6] beat Carolina Marin (ESP)  21-18, 21-11
MD: Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) [4] beat Tsai Chia Hsin / Lee Sheng Mu (TPE) [3]  21-14, 21-18
MS: Lin Dan (CHN) beat Simon Santoso (INA)  22-24, 21-16, 21-7

Click here for complete results

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 @