ASIAN GAMES QF – Welcoming new singles medallists

Five new gold medallists and specifically four brand-new men’s singles medallists will mount the podium at the 2018 Asian Games.  Meanwhile, Sindhu and Saina still survive and are vying for […]

Five new gold medallists and specifically four brand-new men’s singles medallists will mount the podium at the 2018 .  Meanwhile, Sindhu and Saina still survive and are vying for India’s first ever gold.

Story: Naomi Indartiningrum, Badzine Correspondent live in Jakarta
Photos: Raphael Sachetat  / Badmintonphoto (live)

Home favourite Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (pictured above) is full of surprises.  A day after ousting World Champion Kento Momota, he sprang another one in the 2018 Asian Games quarter-final.  This time, he successfully defeated Olympic gold medallist Chen Long.

The first game was pretty tight, with both players looking to attack each other.  The climax was in the second game, when Ginting managed to control the game while Chen Long (pictured right) continued to be under pressure by the cheering of the host supporters, who kept up the sound pressure on the Chinese veteran.  Chen finally managed just 11 points in the second game and left the court after just 50 minutes.

“Actually, there was no specific strategy to defeat him,” Ginting said after the match.  “I happened to control the wind better.  Also, he often made his own mistakes.”

Ginting will be accompanied in the semi-finals with compatriot Jonatan Christie.  While Ginting is up against 4th-seeded Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei, Christie will face another new medallist, Kenta Nishimoto (pictured) from Japan.  Chou and Christie each took care of Hong Kong’s last singles entries, while the 8th-seeded Nishimoto managed to send home the only remaining Korean representative, Son Wan Ho.

Despite holding a 4-1 record against his Japanese opponent, Son instead appeared below his best performance.  Several times he sent the shuttle out or into the net, giving so many points to Nishimoto.  This opportunity was well utilized by the 23-year-old to attack and he managed to confirm the addition of another medal for Japan after winning 21-17, 21-11.

“From the beginning of the match, I applied the attacking game pattern by doing a lot of smashes.  My opponent also looks to be under pressure because of the attack,” Kenta said.

“Actually I had met him several times before, but the conditions were different.  Even though I had won against him before, I was also feeling the pressure at the beginning because I want to win a medal,” he added.

With this result, Korea did not place any representatives in the semi-final round and failed to win a medal in the badminton, marking the first time that has happened since 1978.  This achievement is an important note considering that at the Asian Games 4 years ago, Korea had triumphed by obtaining 1 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze.

What’s more, the losses by Chen Long and Son Wan Ho (pictured), and later by Greysia Polii, mean that gold in all five individual disciplines will be won by players with no Asian Games gold in their collection.  Of course, the men’s team gold was shared by three players – Lin Dan, Chen Long, and Zhang Nan – who had won gold in previous editions of the Asian Games.

Sindhu and Saina eyeing the medals

Both women’s singles players from India, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, managed to create new history after winning the quarter-finals.  Both confirmed themselves to win India’s first women’s singles medals at the Asian Games.  In fact, they will be the first women to win individual medals since Kanwal Thakar Singh took bronze in mixed back in 1982.  The question is, what colour or colours with the two ladies end up with this year?

London bronze medallist Saina Nehwal (pictured) made it to the semi-finals after defeating the world #5 Ratchanok Intanon.  In the 42-minute match, Saina really controlled each game and won 21-18, 21-16.

“She was so strong and I knew she would challenge me a lot today.  I was taking her seriously.  She had beaten Sung Ji Hyun in the previous match and first time I saw her playing well against a rally player,” Saina said.

“There was a time when I was not moving that well but then I opened up and I started picking up those tough shots.  One-two rallies happened and there I saw her getting tired but she was very tough,” she added.

Her compatriot, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (pictured bottom) also followed successfully in Saina’s steps and sent home Thailand’s other quarter-finalist Nitchaon Jindapol in three games.

“Actually I could have finished it in two games but then I got nervous and I made many errors.  My strokes weren’t accurate on the second game.  Due to my mistakes, I gave her the second game.  I should not think that if first game is easy, the second will also be easy,” she said.

In the semi-final round, Saina will face world #1, Tai Tzu Ying (pictured left) from Chinese Taipei while Sindhu will take on her rival from Japan, Akane Yamaguchi.  Like the two Indians, Tai and compatriot Chou Tien Chen are gunning for their flag to be raised above the centre of the podium for the first time in Asian Games badminton history.

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Naomi Indartiningrum

About Naomi Indartiningrum

Naomi began as a Badzine Correspondent in 2015, while still a Business Management student living in Jakarta. A badminton enthusiast since 2007, she mostly spends her spare time writing about local badminton events and also maintaining one of largest badminton twitter accounts in Indonesia.