SUDIRMAN CUP QF – Real men wear pink

Korean coach and former world #2 Kim Ji Hyun was audibly delighted in the press conference room at midnight on Wednesday when her country was drawn to face Chinese Taipei […]

Korean coach and former world #2 Kim Ji Hyun was audibly delighted in the press conference room at midnight on Wednesday when her country was drawn to face Chinese Taipei for the quarter-finals shortly after losing to them.  And victory at this stage indeed happened 3-1 to Korea.

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

YOLO (You only live once)

In the group round robin tie between Korea and Chinese Taipei, the men’s pairs possessed contrasting styles while in the quarter-finals it was like playing like.  The opening point of men’s doubles shone the spotlight on Chinese Taipei’s Lee Jhe-Huei as he was made to defend multiple smashes from sitting on the floor and relished the high stakes.  How this match would turn out came down to his particular tendencies.

Lee Jhe-Huei (pictured) is a force of nature who loves badminton with an ‘all or nothing’ attitude and easily recognisable in the lavender compression stockings and pink shorts, dyed blonde hair, and the full-on whacking slap of camaraderie he gives his partner Lee Yang.  Every point he plays has the accelerator kept in first or second gear for maximum revs.  There was no dramatic change of plan but Jhe-Huei found what he was looking for in the second game – his sweetest timing.

Chinese Taipei serving at 16-18 in third game sums up the match in a single point.  Every exchange within the rally was heightened, there was no room for subtlety, and crucially no time to check where his partner Lee Yang was.  For the first time, Lee Yang, who had dived unsuccessfully to address a shot, appeared exhausted from the demands of their chosen style and threw back a ‘Do we always have to work this hard for a point?’ glance.

Although both sides chose were happy to live and die at this intensity, it cost Jhe-Huei so much because there are more ups and downs due to being emotional whereas the Koreans were only spending physical energy.  Chinese Taipei and Korea each fielding different men’s doubles pairings a night later ended up swapping victories through Choi Sol Gyu / Seo Seung Jae (pictured top) going 21-16, 14-21, 21-17.

Tai Tzu Ying didn’t have the one match lead she’d had the night before but it was momentum she didn’t need as she dominated her first game against Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun.  Sung kept things close and had her own game point opportunities in the second but couldn’t force the decider as Tai kept her composure to win it 26-24 and even the tie at one match apiece.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

The vibe in the men’s singles was electric as Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei was possessed of deeper self-belief this time around while Son Wan Ho (pictured above) was typically self-contained.  In another way, their match also exemplified like playing like for Chou was copying Son’s moves, which is a genuine tactic that singles players use to solve problems.

In mirroring his adversary, more light and shade was evidenced in Chou’s offensive.  There was the three-quarter-pace smash with the swift follow-up like Son’s.  And taking a leaf out of Anthony Ginting’s book, Chou was able to get back Son’s kills at the net.

At 16-18 in the rubber, Chou pulled out three consecutive amazing net shots (first a forehand cross, followed an even better backhand cross, and then a straight one) which soon led to match point.  The situation was only salvaged for Korea by Hawkeye overturning a line call on the rear perimeter.  New world #1 Son Wan Ho stayed cool and won the remaining points and the match against Chou, making it twice in consecutive nights, this time finishing 13-21, 21-18, 23-21.

Wang Chi-Lin not once

Korea took the tie 3-1 when All England champions Chang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (pictured) defeated Wu Ti Jing / Hsu Ya Ching, 21-13, 21-18.  Chinese Taipei never got to use the mixed doubles of Lee Chia Tsin / Wang Chi-Lin, who had pulled their country through an evening earlier.

Click here for complete results from Thursday’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 @