AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2016 R32 – Fu-tastic at the front

Chen Hung Ling positioned in the forecourt as his match was winding up was a good sign for his team while Fu Haifeng doing the same two courts away was […]

Chen Hung Ling positioned in the forecourt as his match was winding up was a good sign for his team while Fu Haifeng doing the same two courts away was no less effective but quite surprising.

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

Men’s doubles second seeds Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan shut out their Japanese opponents Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda 21-17, 21-8, in the last match of Day 2. The first game, containing rallies with a mixture of high and flat shots, was a close affair but ultimately went to the steadier Chinese.

Regrouping, Kamura/Sonoda stubbornly insisted on employing flat drives before and after the mid-game interval which paid no dividends from the outset. Rather, a chasm in the scores grew wider from 2-5 down, then 3-11, and still persisting at 5-15 with this bizarre plan you sensed the inevitable would happen soon but didn’t understand why because they were the ones instigating the play.

What was equally deliberate after the second game interval was Fu Haifeng, long famed as dangerous when in charge from the rear of a doubles formation, planted himself at the front to move in and cut off the flat exchanges with a variety of heftier flat replies and fine taps down from the net.

What was impressive was that Fu didn’t simply end the rallies because he happened to be in the right place at the right time to execute the put-away shot. Instead, he dared to repeatedly step into the line of fire to fashion out downward angles on the flat exchanges.

Has it in him

Even though it’s sporadic, there’s a constant feeling that the underrated Taiwan veteran Chen Hung Ling, a former top 10 player in both doubles disciplines, has more strong results inside of him.

Today, partnering Wang Chi-Lin, he pulled off an opening round upset over China’s third seeded Chai Biao / Hong Wei, 21-16, 8-21, 21-17. The clincher to closing off the match was Chen as the server heading down the home stretch. His short deliveries remained calm as were the final few flat exchanges. On the other hand, Hong tensed up thus losing two points quickly by hitting into the tape of the net as well as a flat push flying slightly long of the rear boundary.

The last stroke was Chen’s gentle and unreachable cross-court net shot, against the return of his own serve, which used less than one third of the tape as an opportunity to be seized. His superior mixed doubles vision, skills, and temperament as applied to men’s doubles ultimately wrapped things up through going for an exquisite winner rather than waiting for the match to be handed to him.

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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 @