NEW ZEALAND OPEN 2016 QF – For every victory, there is defeat

For fans who were able to get a vintage angle of Court 1 at the New Zealand Open, they were treated to a spectacle of badminton with 5 of the […]

For fans who were able to get a vintage angle of Court 1 at the , they were treated to a spectacle of badminton with 5 of the 7 matches extending to 3 games, culminating in defending champions Huang/Zheng toppling top seeds Kim/Kim.

By Kira Rin, Badzine Correspondent live in Auckland.   Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

1st match and already a 3rd game!

If the Koreans had a perfect Thursday, on quarter-final Friday, it was up to lady luck to bring balance into the equation and inflict some loses to even out their victories.  Ko Sung Hyun opened the day with a tight 3-game contest right off the bat.  Young guns Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino fired off quick shots in rapid succession to bedazzle the Koreans and finish the first game with an insurmountable lead.  However, the veteran Ko’s experience as a top player helped him and his partner Kim Ha Na to regroup their thoughts and turn their minds to regaining the advantage.

While the speed of the younger Japanese pair allowed them to reach match point first, Ko’s calmness enabled the Koreans to play consistently and claw back and save 3 match points in succession, then two more, before finally taking the match at their own second opportunity

By contrast, Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan, as well as the double Kims, Gi Jung and Sa Rang, ended up as the biggest casualties of the day.  Last year’s men’s doubles winners Huang Kaixiang and Zheng Siwei (pictured right) look to be on track towards a second New Zealand title, punishing stray lifts with their power moves, en route to ousting top-seeded Kim/Kim.

Meanwhile, Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota (pictured top, with Jung/Shin) pressed on to try their luck at a New Zealand title once again.  They were the beaten finalists last year and they look set to make good on their second shot at the biggest title of their career so far.  Beating Jung and Shin is already an accomplishment, as they lost a hard-fought match to the Koreans late last year.

Before the Japanese pair can claim a spot in the final, they will have to get past the in-form Australian pair of Setyana Mapasa and Gronya Somerville (pictured), who pulled off a huge upset of India’s 4th-seeded Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa.  The Australians saved two game points before eking out a first-game win and dominating the second.

Their performance makes them the first Oceania shuttlers ever to reach the semi-final of a Gold event since the tournament category came into being in 2007.

The one who draws his racquet faster will be the victor

Once again, Soo Teck Zhi had to rely on his swift feet to outpace his opponent, who this time was fellow 20-year-old Shi Yuqi (pictured) of China.   Shi drew first, rushing to a one-game lead with 11 points to spare.

Soo Teck Zhi was stuck playing catch-up until he was just able to gain a tiny lead that would let him take a close second game.  With a third game that could go either way, the Malaysian stepped up his speed, drawing his racquet at ever-increasing speeds.  Careless mistakes by his Chinese opponent saw Soo Teck Zhi gradually build a lead culminating in a semi-final booking.

Korea saw both of its men’s singles player booted out, with Huang Yuxiang taking out Son Wan Ho in two close games.  2013 NZ open Champion Riichi Takeshita added Lee Dong Keun to the list of seeded players beaten this tournament, tiring him out with an endurance game.

When all misfortunes have passed, there is hope

Ko Sung Hyun, however, became a beacon of hope for Korea as he wrapped up his men’s doubles in prompt fashion, booking a second semi-final spot where he and Shin Baek Cheol (pictured) will face off Markus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, who saw off Liu Wei Chen and Han Yang Po in a display of smashing power.

Korea has an assured spot in the women’s doubles finals, but Sung Ji Hyun will have to face giant killer Chiang Mei Hui and Ko Sung Hyun’s mixed pairing will have to face a formidable and in-form Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying.

Click here for complete quarter-final results

About Kira Rin