AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2014 R16 – Olympic champs trade match points

A seesaw rematch between Olympic champion former partners provided thrills late in the day at the Star Australian Open Superseries. By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Sydney.  Photos: Yves […]

A seesaw rematch between Olympic champion former partners provided thrills late in the day at the Star .

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

Men’s doubles: Change of plan in the decider

Always going to be of interest was current Olympic champions Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng playing each other as part of new men’s doubles combinations, but it turned out to have a great deal more than curiosity value.

The familiarity of old partners coming up against one another resulted in several long flat rallies instigated by Cai Yun while Fu Haifeng on the other side sustaining longer than probably any other person on earth could, simultaneously refusing to be outhit and opting not to change direction in such exchanges.

The orange-kitted Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan were reigning over the yellow-jerseyed Cai Yun / Lu Kai (pictured) because the former combination appeared to be less of a work in progress than the latter. Fu demonstrated he is not just a rear-court specialist and amped up the danger factor on tight net returns of serve with Zhang very willing be an all court player as necessary. Despite holding three match points and able to take it in straight games, Fu/Zhang failed to convert.

As for the other pairing, their default was positioning Cai mainly at the front, where his strength lies, with the tallest of the lot Lu best firing missiles down from the rear. Cai/Lu spoke more often to each other compared with Fu/Zhang and their fresh plan in the third game was to stay closer to each other around the mid-court area because the rear court offense by either side weren’t garnering significant advantages.

At 19-all, Lu Kai’s fluke mid-court return skimmed the top of the net, went off course slightly and still landed in on the other side to earn them match point which they then converted at the first time of asking after having rehearsed being assertive from mid-court, and the Singapore Open champions took it 19-21, 22-20, 21-19.

Men’s singles: Four equals

In the deciding game, there was nothing to choose between Wang Zhengming and Sai Praneeth B. (pictured above) on court as they levelled at 18 points each, barely letting each other of sight all that way. But it was the 6th-seeded Chinese player who was more successful in the calculated risks that he took in the closing stages of against his Indian opponent, in part because he attempted them in the middle of a rally to afford himself some rhythm, and thus came through, 21-15, 8-21, 21-19.

Germany’s Marc Zwiebler was the unlucky to find Hong Kong’s former world #12 Wong Wing Ki (pictured) in his path of the draw. Zwiebler succumbed 18-21, 18-21, against an opponent who had rested and recovered from a confidence rocking injury at the start of the year.

“I had to work hard in the match and recently in general but I believed it was possible to win today because I have played at that level before,” said Wong.

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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 @