AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2014 QF – Groove is in the heart

Just as the string of upsets started to subside, Japan’s Yui Hashimoto lit up quarter-finals day at the Star Australian Open Superseries with another surprise victory over a past champion. […]

Just as the string of upsets started to subside, Japan’s Yui Hashimoto lit up quarter-finals day at the Star with another surprise victory over a past champion.

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

There is certain delight in watching athletes find their groove and achieve free flow in their matches all the way to the end, everything begins to look effortless. It is very much an achievement to not segue into overly self-conscious mode, which is a death wish to quick reflexes and concentration.

In women’s singles, the 2012 champion Han Li of China never looked confident once she lost the first game against Japan’s Yui Hashimoto (pictured). Conversely, Yui motored along unself-consciously right until the end, 21-18, 21-18, consistently executing the sweetest of timing and tightest of net shots while Han’s counter-attacks turned out to be over-hits due to over-anxiousness.

“I don’t really have the kind of pressure other players have of being highly ranked,” explained Hashimoto of her ride into the semi-final.

“I just like to play the way that suits me, which is running freely to cover the court. Of course, I worry that I could sustain an injury but I’ve still decided to play like this and if an unfortunate accident happens then it happens.”

After what the Germans felt was their slow start, Birgit Michels / Michael Fuchs (pictured) were thrilled to discover Korea’s Shin Seung Chan / Lee Yong Dae lifting shots rather than playing flat ones, a situation they were able to exploit with Fuchs bouncing and bounding impressively high, especially today, to smash during the match, which the Germans soon won 21-18, 21-9.

“To tell you a secret, we’re playing without a coach here. (But) he has been analysing our matches back home and sending us tips and this arrangement has been working,” revealed Fuchs.

Chinese Taipei’s victor of the day were Lee Sheng Mu / Tsai Chia Hsin (pictured) in men’s doubles.  The world #6 also played freely to oust former All England champions Liu Xiaolong / Qiu Zihan of China, 23-21, 21-10, in quick time and straight games too.  Lee/Tsai seemed to play a similar tactic to what Cai/Lu did in the third game of last night and spent numerous occasions forward of the mid-court.

China had revenge via the women’s singles when top seed Wang Shixian prevented Tai Tzu Ying from making it the long matches they have become accustomed to having.  This one ended 21-15, 21-19 as Tai was hitting to all the right places but couldn’t keep more of them inside the lines. Looking fine and fit and smashing effectively, Tai found that these unforced errors, made while manoeuvring her opponent around, cost her a next round berth in the harbour city.

Click here for complete quarter-final 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 @