SUDIRMAN CUP QF – No woman, yes cry

Three Olympic gold medallists showed up for duty when China met India in the Sudirman Cup quarters but the silver medallist waited in the wings for a chance that never materialised. […]

Three Olympic gold medallists showed up for duty when China met India in the quarters but the silver medallist waited in the wings for a chance that never materialised.

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

Mixed doubles

India’s Ashwini Ponnappa / Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (pictured) had stunned all their opponents at this Sudirman Cup by taking at least one game and their effect on mixed doubles world #2 Huang Yaqiong / Lu Kai was no different.  Of course, Rankireddy’s enormous smash made its impact felt initially and shortened rallies in the same way partners of Goh V Shem, Bodin Isara and – in earlier days, at least – Fu Haifeng or Joachim Fischer-Nielsen could pleasantly expect.

Up front

Some of the things known for sure are: Firstly, this fresh and hot Indian serving, cooked up especially for the Sudirman Cup, will make rookie strategic mistakes and present some sitting ducks at the net.  It’s hardly a problem when they are ahead in the score by a heap, as in the first game tonight, but their slight lead was chase-able in the rubber.

Secondly, China’s Huang Yaqiong / Lu Kai (pictured top) have consistently or unwittingly been a pair that opponents this year could capture significant stretches of points against while never being able to make it all the way to match point.  This happened even on occasions where the Chinese weren’t at their best and hadn’t themselves expected to prevail, like the heartbreaking example for the Adcocks at the semis of the All England being four points ahead post-interval in the third game: so close but failing to reach the final their home Superseries, which is the most prestigious in badminton.  Think also Goh/Chan being 17-14 up in the final of the same All England, or Taerattanachai/Puavaranukroh’s early six-point lead at the Asia Championships withering away.

Lu looms large

Huang/Lu deserved to win today.  Second game onwards, the Chinese pair attained superiority whenever Lu Kai (pictured) made inroads into the front mid-court either to take charge entirely or get side by side, as this positioning gave him clear striking range to test Ponnappa’s smash returns.  Letting Lu Kai into the mid-court is more dangerous than Rankireddy in the same position.

Huang Yaqiong’s unbelievable defence normally saves the day but in this afternoon’s encounter, Lu Kai’s anticipation was a prevalent dimension.  The Indians were relying on great shots in general.  The greater number of slower, thoughtful rallies in the second and third games suited the Chinese, who ultimately triumphed 16-21, 21-13, 21-16, in a match that India had levered major hopes on.

Classy Olympic champions

Both Rio Olympic men’s singles and doubles champions representing China dismissed their opposition in straight games.  India’s former world #3 Srikanth Kidambi (pictured) has to wait for another day to register his first victory over Chen Long as their fifth meeting turned out 16-21, 17-21.

In only their fourth international match together so far this year, Zhang Nan / Fu Haifeng were still too experienced to be troubled by the burgeoning talents of five-time International Challenge-winning teenagers Chirag Shetty / Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (pictured bottom).  China’s ticket into the semi-finals to meet Japan was bought by their men’s doubles triumph, 21-9, 21-11.

India never got to use Pusarla Venkata Sindhu in women’s singles.  It was a shame for those fans of hers who bought quarter-final tickets as matters looked like a whitewash 0-3 tie to China.

Quarter-final result: China 3, India 0
XD:  Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) beat Satwiksairaj Rankireddy / Ashwini Ponnappa (IND)  16-21, 21-13, 21-16
MS:  Chen Long (CHN) beat Kidambi Srikanth (IND)  21-16, 21-17
MD:  Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan (CHN) beat Satwiksairaj Rankireddy / Chirag Shetty (IND)  21-9, 21-11
WS:  He Bingjiao (CHN) vs. Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (IND) [not played]
WD:  Bao Yixin / Tang Jinhua (CHN) vs. Ashwini Ponnappa / Sikki Reddy (IND) [not played]

Click here for complete results from Friday’s quarter-finals

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 @