AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2016 R32 – Mixed: In with the old, in with the new

Special new and old mixed pairs try for special results on Day 2 of the Australian Open. By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Sydney.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live) Big names […]

Special new and old mixed pairs try for special results on Day 2 of the .

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

Big names in uneven matches appeared as dawn broke on the Round of 32 in Sydney on Wednesday.  Olympic champion Li Xuerui, 2014 Japan Open winner Akane Yamaguchi, and World Champion Chen Long gave their young Australian singles opponents special memories of taking a handfuls of points each off the legends.

Appetisers done with, the main course of mixed doubles, with fifth Seeds Gabrielle Adcock / Chris Adcock of England taking on Korea’s Chae Yoo Jung / Choi Sol Gyu, was a satisfying winter’s feast — served warm, thick with action and flavoured with multiple notes to savour.

Last year, these Koreans came to Sydney as part of two brand new pairings (Choi partnered Eom Hye Won and Chae was with Shin Baek Cheol) and stood out as possessing something special individually.  Back together this year in the partnership that won two Asian Junior titles not too long ago, they nearly pulled off a special result.

The Korean campaign opened strongly using tight-knit court coverage, smooth rotations between front and rear roles, and crucially by both making decisive shots.  Choi shares an effective, no nonsense straight line smash that is produced with ease and accuracy with women’s doubles world #1 Ayaka Takahashi and Chinese men’s singles player Xue Song, and  he used this to pierce through the gap between his English opponents.

While air-bourne and with the flick of her wrist, Chae’s left handed ultra-wide cross-court drop shots caught the Brits off guard at the end of long rallies.  The same flick was adapted to produce sharp sudden straight smashes from the mid-court too, so she had options.  Altogether, their constant thick offence took the first game 21-11.

The Adcocks had to ditch remaining passive or else face the inevitable.  Down 4-8 in the second game, the English started off their turnaround with straightforward increased power and urgency until they found inroads with Gabrielle’s Donna Kellog-esque sharp downward angled smashes followed up by Chris in front finally hitting shuttles to the floor once half-court replies appeared.  They equalised at 17-all and went ahead to level the score-line at one game apiece, theirs coming at 21-18.

In the deciding game, the English continued winning rallies containing high lifts and the Koreans won the flat ones.  Things came apart for the younger pair because they perhaps hadn’t distinctly noticed this pattern and carried on relying on their quality shots without much of a plan.  In short, the pairs switched passive roles and although the Koreans were better at this aspect they still paid the price at deuce.  Chris and Gabrielle sealed their 22-20 victory in the third with a kiss.

“We worked together as juniors but today is the first time in about a year we’ve played a match at this standard together so we’re satisfied with the performance,” said Choi, in explanation of his smooth new partnership with Chae.

The Koreans interviewed like they play doubles, each inserting their thoughts after the other.  “The match became difficult once we got used to each other’s tactics after the first game,” added Chae.


Like the preview stated, the seeds would face uninhibited fearlessness from the rest.  Mixed doubles top seeds Liliyana Natsir / Tontowi Ahmad weren’t as lucky as the Adcocks and went down to Maiken Fruergaard / Anders Rasmussen 12-21, 21-18, 15-21.

Fruergaard and Rasmussen have their solid and patient defence largely to thank.  It sounds simple but the Danes stood firm in this department and the Indonesians gradually grew demoralised in their own rhythm and creativity.

“We will have to talk to our coach to figure out what happened and what we can do,” said Natsir with a concerned frown.  She was likely referring to the two early defeats at the hands of second tier Danish pairs in the space of a week with the Olympic Games not far off.

Rasmussen was in a good mood in the mixed zone and said that he couldn’t let his doubles partner Kim Astrup be the only one to beat Natsir/Ahmad.  And then he paid tribute, “Winning in three [games] or losing in three would have been a good result for us against this world class pair.”

Click here for complete Wednesday 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 @