AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2016 Finals – Singles: In the driver’s seats

The drivers in today’s singles matches needed a lot of fuel to stay ahead. Hans Kristian Vittinghus won his maiden Superseries while Saina took her 10th from the Superseries era. […]

The drivers in today’s singles matches needed a lot of fuel to stay ahead. Hans Kristian Vittinghus won his maiden while Saina took her 10th from the Superseries era. A day to remember for both.

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

What you can do I can do, too           

Two Grand Prix Gold title winners were thoroughly prepared to take it to the next level, in terms of fitness as well as a maiden Superseries victory.

From the word go, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (photo) and Jeon Hyeok Jin raced off at 20% higher velocity above yesterday’s calculated performances.

Each man attempted to reach the net early, not as you might expect to gain an edge using a tumble on the shuttle but instead with authoritative accelerating wide cross-court pushes.

They also mirrored one another’s off cross-court smashes, both cleverly taking the pace off to create sharper angles. The men separated themselves on the quality of down-the-line smashes, Jeon sending more than a couple wide whereas Vittinghus collected the first game point with his.

Vittinghus, a game up and feeling warmer in the accuracy department, pressed his young Korean opponent heavier while dishing up winners. Jeon was mature enough to respond by keeping the rallies from being short ones until he had a chance to counter attack and capture game two.

Sensing it remained the correct game plan, Vittinghus resumed challenging the fitness and defensive responses of Jeon until he bludgeoned out the biggest individual tournament win of his career within a month of delivering glory for Denmark at the Thomas Cup care of his absolutely critical third singles victory.

“I’m speechless.  Being part of the Thomas Cup winning team, winning the , reaching the semi-final of the All England: I couldn’t have dreamed of this at the start of the year. And I’m getting married in September,” said a jubilant Vittinghus.

The unregretful Jeon Hyeok Jin (photo) paid tribute to his conqueror as well as the locals: “Hans-Kristian’s cross-court smash winners were tough to get and it proves why he has a high ranking.

“I appreciate the Australian crowd’s encouragement. It feels to me like playing on home ground.”

Chinese cracker

Of the top five Chinese ladies singles players, Sun Yu has the most straightforward strategy and strokes. You can see the shuttle coming so either get to it or not. Simple, so to speak.

The Chinese player picked on her opponent’s backhand smash defence which continually sat up high enough for a put-away in order to win the first game.

Things turned around when the Indian responded in the second game with a gutsy net proposition that put enormous pressure on both herself and Sun Yu (photo) to meet the demands of.

Sun’s quality waned early in the third game at the same time as Saina’s daring net play refused to comply after the change of ends resulting in their chances remained relatively even. The experience of the 2014 Australian Open champion kicked in at the final interval and she upped the urgency on court coverage and risk-taking with relentless firing down of shots. Ultimately, Saina Nehwal (photo), who is never lax in the fitness department, was willing to get behind the shuttle for smashes while Sun wasn’t, in the home stretch.

Nehwal talked about the physicality involved: “The smash takes so much stamina but the inspiration came from within me. My coaches do worry but I’m thinking with three chances at it and how hard I was hitting, I had a feeling she would crack — no matter if I were facing Wang Yihan or Li Xuerui too.”

“I came into this tournament not expecting to win and today not feeling as great as I did against Ratchanok or Yihan.”

Sun Yu looked at things realistically too: “The umpire refusing my requests to towel down perhaps played a part. Maybe he normally comes across players who don’t as much but I definitely always perspire a lot. Still, I’m fairly satisfied with my performance today. Coming as close as I did today but without a win has a lot to do with the deeper experience of my opponent.”

Final results
WD:  Bao Yixin / Chen Qingchen (CHN) beat Nitya Krishinda Maheswari / Greysia Polii (INA) [2]  23-21, 21-17
MD:  Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) [7] beat Angga Pratama / Ricky Karanda Suwardi (INA) [6]  21-14, 21-15
MS:  Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (DEN) beat Jeon Hyeok Jin (KOR)  21-16, 19-21, 21-11
XD:  Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) [8] beat Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN)  21-18, 21-14
WS:  Saina Nehwal (IND) [7] beat Sun Yu (CHN) 11-21, 21-14, 21-19

Click here for complete 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 @