KOREA OPEN QF – Defending champions He/Du out

Rinov Rivaldy and Pitha Haningtyas Mentari ousted mixed doubles defending champions He Jiting / Du Yue in three very close games to start off quarter-finals day at the Korea Open. […]

Rinov Rivaldy and Pitha Haningtyas Mentari ousted mixed doubles defending champions He Jiting / Du Yue in three very close games to start off quarter-finals day at the .

By Don Hearn, Badzine correspondent live in Incheon.  Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto (live)

Opening the afternoon’s play on Court 3 at the 2019 Korea Open was a showdown between the mixed doubles champions from the 2016 and 2017 World Junior Championships.  Both young pairs won major senior titles within a year of claiming junior honours but the edge there went to He Jiting / Du Yue of China, who collected two Grand Prix Gold titles in the 12 months after they won their junior title in Spain in November 2016.

Then last, year, just a week before He and Du collected their first ever title here in Korea, Rinov Rivaldy and Pitha Haningtyas Mentari (pictured) made their home Super 100 event their first major title on the senior circuit.  Since then, the Indonesian youngsters have reached two Super 300 finals but this Korea Open is only their second quarter-final appearance at the Super 500 level.

All three games were perilously close by the end but there were some big swings in fortunes for each side.  The Indonesians managed a promising 19-16 lead in the first game, only to be reeled in again and again and they only managed to take it on their 6th game point.

The Chinese completely took control in the second and looked like they had completely turned the match around when they were up 17-9 but Mentari was solid at the net and she and Rivaldy clawed their way back to within 1 and then saved 3 game points to tie it at 20-all.  Still, they couldn’t get out in front and although they saved two more, He/Du won 24-22 to force a deciding game.

The third game was the Indonesians’ chance to look dominant but after moving in front 14-8, they also took their turn having their lead erased and from 20-17 up they blew their first 3 match point opportunities.  They held their nerve in the end, though, and never let the defending champions get in front as the finished it 22-20.

“In the second game, the gap in the score was too wide,” said Mentari after the match, “so we just played like we had nothing to lose but after we caught up to them in the score, we really wanted to win and that’s why we rushed a bit and lost.  Then in the third game, we really didn’t want to let the same thing happen again so we really tried our best and we stayed strong until the end.”

Next up for Mentari and Rivaldy are World Championship runners-up Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai.  The Thais, who won handily over Japan’s Kaneko/Matsutomo, have already beaten the Indonesian youngsters once this year, at the German Open.

On her upcoming match, her first ever Super 500 semi-final, Mentari said, “I just want to give my best tomorrow and I hope we can make the final.”

The top half of the mixed doubles draw will also feature a China-Indonesia match-up, as Jordan/Oktavianti will be vying for their first win over World Champions Zheng/Huang after five unsuccessful attempts.

Click here for complete quarter-final results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net