AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2015 QF – Hong Kong smell success

Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah took their first ever victory over world #4 Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen to earn a rematch with their Asian Champion successors. By Aaron […]

Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah took their first ever victory over world #4 Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen to earn a rematch with their Asian Champion successors.

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

Expecting the unexpected helps

It’s a good sign in mixed doubles when you are controlling most of the rallies with smashes from the mid-court and with space to still advance while your opponents are forced rear of their centre forecourt. Hong Kong’s Lee Chun Hei commanded such a position in the first game into the second half as he and partner Chau Hoi Wah (pictured above) battled against 3rd-seeded Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen (pictured) of Denmark.

Both players from Hong Kong continued on with their hot performances of the days prior.  Chau aided her partner with negligible unforced errors, commendable defence and, crucially, not opening any gaps on court.  It took two net cords, two framed shots and two slightly long-of-the-rear boundary lifts of theirs to allow the Danes back into the match and delay the outcome of the better pair going through, 21-16, 13-21, 21-19.  Throughout, the Hong Kong pair continued doing exactly as they wanted and they returned to their equilibrium state of focus and flow as soon as the decider commenced.

“The win aside, we’re really happy with our form recently especially since the Asian Badminton Championships,” commented Chau.

In reference to dropping games despite being the better pair as well as crashing into each other when both jumped to seize the kill on outmanoeuvred opponents such that the score turned 19-17 instead of yielding them match point, she added, “At the start of the week, we worried about the slower shuttles at this tournament but we adjusted fine.  We’re a maturer pair now, we mainly manage our form and as for the elements outside of our control, we just know to expect those will happen sometimes and ride it out without getting distracted.”

Adapting to each other

Traveling and competing without a coach, Canada’s Michelle Li (pictured) had to use the first game to learn and get used to the highly deceptive Bae Yeon Ju of Korea.  Even on the shots she could see coming, there was further learning involved, owing to the amount of slice imparted by Bae’s racquet.  The Korean’s drop shots land sharper and slightly further forecourt than you first imagine and also wider on the cross courts.

Once the Canadian started reaching the shuttles, half the battle was won and they equalised at one game each.

As much as it appeared that Bae had the upperhand, she too was adapting to Li’s brand of play even though Bae has beaten her four times since their first meeting back in 2008. “It was so long ago, I can’t remember her style.”

“Actually, the first game was the hardest for me,” the Korean revealed.

A resurgent Bae Yeon Ju (pictured) emerged in the decider, having the stamina and willingness to manage Li’s higher volume of smashes and wide pushes and when the clear opportunity arose to display her flair she did to devastating effect, 21-8, 17-21, 21-10.

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 @