AUSTRALIAN OPEN R32 – Korean grinners, survivors and casualties

Korean players who didn’t think they’d scrape into the next round did while the beloved ones the crowd willed with all their hearts to didn’t. By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent […]

Korean players who didn’t think they’d scrape into the next round did while the beloved ones the crowd willed with all their hearts to didn’t.

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

The mixed doubles main round already started on Day 1 and still Round 1 proceedings spilled into Day 3.  Ko Sung Hyun, who won the mixed doubles title here just 2 months before becoming men’s doubles World Champion, played one of the first matches on court Wednesday, and also the last.  His first appearance, at 9:10AM, was a repeat of the Korea Masters final from last December and with the same result, as Ko and Eom Hye Won (pictured above) again got the better of Choi Sol Gyu and Shin Seung Chan.  Neither pair had played internationally since Gwangju but Eom and Ko play on the same domestic team and won a national mixed title last month.  For Choi and Shin, this was their very first match since losing to their compatriots 6 months ago.

The marquee matches came mostly at the end of the day, however, particularly with the men’s doubles match-ups.

Any which way

It’s the one that got away for Fajar Alfian / Muhummad Rian Ardianto (pictured). The world #6 Indonesians had it in the bag if only they knew it. Korea’s world #42 Choi Sol Gyu / Seo Seung Jae, in their unstructured way, pulled through over their fourth*seeded opponents, 17-21, 21-13, 21-19, in a match requiring no less than four mid-rally racquet changes by all concerned.

Alfian/Ardianto, though of slighter build than Choi, fired smashes at seemingly twice the decibels. Indonesian patience was rewarded in the first game and it’s a wonder they didn’t continue in the same vein.

Choi/Seo were as offensive and defensive as they could possibly be but never really finding their opponents out of position. They basically made the Indonesians doubt they had the right plan by staying alive repeatedly for as long as possible.

2014 World Championships silver medallists down at 23:58

If last year’s runners-up Wahyu Pangkaryanira / Ade Yusuf Santoso had played this focused and attacking they probably would’ve earnt twice the pay-cheque.

The world #28 Indonesians waited four years for revenge and slapped a second first round Australian defeat on Yoo Yeon Seong and a first for Lee Yong Dae (pictured left), 21-18, 12-21, 21-16. The last time these pairs met, Yoo/Lee went on to defend their Australian Superseries title.

The end court with the tricky uneven lighting conditions was the scene of Korean carnage at two minutes to midnight. Yoo/Lee were hapless in the opening game but managed to level the match when they played on the good side, which provides better perspective with a wall rather than crowd as the background. The same effectiveness, or lack thereof, happened at the change of ends twice more.

Ending up on the good side after the final interval only helped the coach-less Koreans stop the bleeding but they weren’t able to reduce the five-point deficit.

2014 World Champions up at 00:28

On the adjacent court, former men’s singles world #1 Lee Hyun Il calmly coached world #34 Ko Sung Hyun / Shin Baek Cheol (pictured below) to 21-14, 11-21, 21-17 victory over world #5 and fifth seeds Hiroyuki Endo (pictured) and Yuta Watanabe while Endo’s erstwhile partner and former men’s doubles world #2 Kenichi Hayakawa looked on.

Ko’s varying of the straight and reverse slice drop-shots were key to securing the opening game with ease, not withstanding both Ko/Shin gifting at least three cheap points on service errors, either too high or too short.

In the rubber, Watanabe’s changes of pace with his own effective drop-shot was yielding the Japanese most of the points. Shin Baek Cheol played the perfect passenger, knowing that most of his proactive chip and charge strokes as well as short serves were unreliable. He quickly switched to simply keeping the shuttle in and when the opportunity arose both Koreans picked on Endo.

Oddly, at one point, the umpire overturned a late call on the line furthest from her when the Japanese started pointing, and where Ko was standing over to watch the straight falling shuttle. Ko protested with a smile in English but was clearly gobsmacked.

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 @ badzine.net