AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2015 R32– Commonwealth champs pushed to the limit

The score stopped just one point short of the maximum as Commonwealth Games gold medallists Goh and Tan scraped by with a 30-28 deciding game against Denmark’s Astrup/Rasmussen. By Aaron […]

The score stopped just one point short of the maximum as Commonwealth Games gold medallists Goh and Tan scraped by with a 30-28 deciding game against Denmark’s Astrup/Rasmussen.

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

It the men’s doubles match between Denmark and Malaysia, you couldn’t have picked who would win.  Their third game overtime deuce had it all: three match points for the Danes wherein the last two were brought up by net cord shots, a fault serve for Rasmussen, gamesmanship and delays by Goh, and the sheer will to win on the part of all four men.

We can all learn two things from this match.  Firstly, the combining of two world top 10 players do not necessarily a new top 10 pairing make.  Malaysia’s Goh V. Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (pictured) were individually top notch but as a pairing are yet to innovate a distinctive edge.

Secondly, underdogs can take heart that there’s always a chance, for as Tan explained, “The most difficult part of today’s match was it being our first match in this hall.  Also the first time playing these opponents, we did somewhat relax or change focus after an easy first game.”

In other words, the superior skills of an opponent are not a deal breaker.  Better players naturally get affected by external factors like the environment as well as their own emotional responses, much like most of us.

Stretched to their maximum, Malaysia’s resolve to stick to their original plan eventually prevented Denmark’s Kim Astrup / Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (pictured) from ever achieving two consecutive points at the final deuce stage.  Goh/Tan were creating the majority of lift opportunities and easily the highest elevation on smashes so they held the upper hand literally the majority of the time and converted when luck of the net cord wasn’t a factor.

Koreans mix up their own mixed

Korean flags flew half mast for just one out of their four mixed doubles hopefuls on the morning of Round 1 but Jang Ye Na / Yoo Yeon Seong appeared nonplussed about the 19-21, 21-19, 21-13 loss to Indonesia’s pairing of 2012 and 2011 World Junior Champions Gloria Emmanuelle Widjaja / Edi Subaktiar,. At the critical third game second half, the Indonesians showed fluid teamwork, whereas the Koreans were continually slower with implementing a strategy which is par for the course for a pairing that’s been apart for over a year.

Of the winning quartet, only Lee So Hee / Lee Yong Dae needed three games to scrub out of upcoming draw last year’s runners-up Birgit Michels / Michael Fuchs, 21-16, 18-21, 21-19.  Lee/Lee were individually solid skill-wise, which only just made up for their messy dispatching of the rallies.

Virtually Korea’s only non-scratch pair, defending champions Kim Ha Na / Ko Sung Hyun had the easiest and shortest time while tackling Japan.  Kim felt that her mixed standard had “dropped a little” since their win while partner Ko says there’s no problem being robust focusing equally on two events because his training is geared towards that.

“And there are always the massages to look forward to,” Ko added.

Funnily enough, the outstanding pair of the lot was also an experimental combination.  Shin Baek Cheol, an Asian Games mixed champion and reigning men’s doubles World Champion, took on the task – together with two-time Asian Junior Champion Chae Yoo Jung (pictured) – of dismantling Malaysia’s Goh Liu Ying / Chan Peng Soon as though it were his only event.  In his case, you can banish the thought he was filling in time and getting in more practice for the main focus of level doubles which is doubtful for some of the others.

Shin is the perfect example of a true doubles player: always collaborative, ever protective of his partner and never less than absolutely committed in his heart to a holistic outcome.  On the Korean side, he was the smart one directing traffic and for the Malaysians it was Goh, which pitted Chae opposite Chan in the athleticism stakes.

Chae appeared eager to impress and she has the technical skills to back it up.  Both Malaysians were below par in their jurisdictions in the first game but rose to almost equal at the change of ends.  Chan’s slight shortfall was something he couldn’t get away with today as the score indicates, 21-14, 22-20.

Asked what in particular she likes about this partner, Chae agrees: “He couldn’t be more supportive”.  And we needn’t worry about the injury that sidelined Shin, who happens also to be the reigning men’s doubles World Champion, for four months.  He confirmed that he is feeling fine and moving with ease which equates to what we witnessed on court.

Chae’s former partner Choi Sol Gyu, meanwhile, was accompanying Eom Hye Won (pictured) on her return to the Superseries after a six-month hiatus, which began shortly after she and Yoo Yeon Seong were runners-up at the China Open.  Eom and Choi beat India’s Chopra/Ponnappa in two straight.

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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 @