AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2016 QF – World #2s lose in two

Ratchanok Intanon began the week as world #2, at the update yesterday Chen Long dropped to world #2, and both were shown the exit at the Australian Open on Friday. […]

Ratchanok Intanon began the week as world #2, at the update yesterday Chen Long dropped to world #2, and both were shown the exit at the on Friday.

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

I haven’t seen your tricks

Here are two things to bet on – one for the short term and one for the long term: 1) Anthony Ginting (pictured top) can take home the Australian Open men’s singles category; 2) Given the right partner(s) Zheng Siwei could become world #1.

In this their first encounter, Chen Long (pictured below) wouldn’t want to give the match to Anthony Ginting after the losing the first game – i.e. use the rest of the match as hand skills practice – as it would accelerate the inevitability of this gifted young Indonesian making it into the top 20.  More importantly, it would give a big psychological advantage the next time they meet. So Chen was trying but it happened anyway, as Ginting won 21-14, 21-17.

The quickness of Anthony Ginting’s court coverage is plain to see but what probably bothered Chen Long was the speed at which Ginting was reading the situation in amongst forcing the pace upwards. Evidence of this are Chen Long’s unforced errors of hitting long or wide on seemingly unpressured cross-court lifts.

Ginting continues to spray his talent liberally while accumulating experience. Playing Sameer Verma yesterday is no different from Chen Long in that he does what he does and the whole bunch fall into the generic basket of opponents.

The young Indonesian’s cross net shots are as breathtaking as they are exceptional, an early compact execution on a fine shot done after much multi-directional running. And that the second tallest man in the top 10 can read them but can’t get a racquet on them really says it all about the quality.

Another exceptional shot – which in the context of his already deceptive selections only adds to unpredictability for his opponent – is the daring to impart a slightly wide angle to down-the-line smashes. Chen Long was waiting but didn’t get a racquet on these either, even when within reach from his centre base position.

I’ve seen your tricks

Saina Nehwal (pictured), on the other hand, wasn’t deceived by Ratchanok Intanon’s tricks in the women’s singles and was on full stretch frequently to address her opponent’s drop shots and net replies.

In the long first game deuce, Nehwal was fortunate to be ahead at the moment she committed two consecutive unforced errors but otherwise both ladies needed winners to get the better of the other.

“That first game felt like two games,” said Nehwal with a smile after winning 28-26, 21-16.

On how difficult Intanon’s shots are to handle even when one knows they are coming she added, “Ratchanok has very sharp shots and manipulation at the net but I was moving well today so I could get them.

“I didn’t expect to beat Ratchanok today. I have been playing tournaments one after another and I haven’t had time to [purely] train to return to my best level since an injury in November last year.”

The tradition continues

Zheng Siwei is the latest in a tradition of Chinese players who on their debut have made Australia their happy hunting ground. He won both quarter-finals in straight games and enters the men’s doubles semi-finals in Sydney ranked “nothing” in the world with Liu Cheng.

Zheng’s mixed partner Chen Qingchen (pictured bottom) is the only other double doubles semi-finalist but she’s been in the position before in Sydney. Back in 2013, Chen narrowly missed out on a Grand Prix Gold final appearance at age 15 when she lost 19-21 in the rubber game to Jang Ye Na / Shin Baek Cheol.

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 @