Sunday’s matches resulted in a tight race at the top of the results table for Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia as only two points separate these top 3 teams.
By Angga Maulana Akbar, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Axiata Cup (live)
The Asia All Stars were languishing in the bottom half of the table before they came to the courts on Sunday to open that day’s matches against then-leaders Indonesia. Indonesia was left 0-2 after Aprilia Yuswandari who sustained an ankle injury during the match lost to Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong 14-21, 12-21 and Simon Santoso was defeated by two-time Olympic semi-finalist Korea Lee Hyun Il in three games.
However, in doubles, Indonesia got better of the Asia All Stars. The comeback was begun by Muhammad Rijal / Debby Susanto (pictured), world #8 in mixed doubles, who overcame India’s Tarun Kona / Ashwini Ponnappa in three games 21-11, 19-21, and 21-14.
“We were glad we put up a good fight and stretched it to three matches,” said Tarun Kona, expressing his happy feeling as he got a valuable lesson playing three games with a top ten mixed pair.
The Asian team’s change of tactic, going back from scratch pairings to more seasoned duos, was fruitless in the men’s doubles as well. Indonesia picked up their second doubles point from Angga Pratama / Ryan Agung Saputro, who trounced Zheng Bo and Bao Chunlai (pictured) 21-12, 21-14.
The next matches saw Thailand against Vietnam. Thailand played well, suffering no tight scores, and took four matches in straight games to seal their third tie so that Thailand sits atop the table. Thailand’s party began when Busanan Ongbamrungphan defeated Vu Thi Trang and ended when Thailand closed the party with Boonsak Poonsana / Songphon Anugritayawon outclassing Bao Minh / Nguyen Khang Huynh in the men’s doubles.
“We are glad with the team’s performance today, and are looking forward to the ties scheduled next week,” said Thailand team manager Udom Luangphetcharaporn. “We have set a target and that is to qualify for the semi-finals.”
Meanwhile, Boonsak Ponsana, Thailand’s top men’s singles player who is getting his test as a doubles player, gave his comment on team’s performance: “It allowed Tanongsak to prove himself as a capable singles player, and improved my partnership understanding.”
In the afternoon, Malaysia lost one point before suppressing the Europe All Stars 3-1. World #51 Tee Jing Yi lost to Carolina Marin Martin of Spain in three games. This was followed by another respectable performance by Irishman Scott Evans (pictured), who was only narrowly defeated by French Open champion Liew Daren 22-20, 21-19.
Other matches showed how formidable Malaysia can be when they come to the courts with a full- strength team. English couple Nathan Robertson / Jenny Wallwork were defeated in the mixed doubles by world #5 Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying in three games. Ivan Sozonov / Vladimir Ivanov failed to make it a draw as they lost to Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong 14-21, 17-21.
The day was closed by Singapore winning over the Philippines. This second win for Singapore started when Xing Aiying (pictured below) won over Bianca Ysabel Carlos 21-16 21-6. Ashton Chen and Danny Bawa Chrisnanta / Vanessa Yu Yan Neo followed by outclassing John Kenneth Monterubio and Peter Gabriel Magnaye / Malvinne Ann Venice Alcala respectively. However, the Philippines did manage to steal their second match of the week as Philip Joper Escueta / Ronel Estanislo got the best of Liu Yi / Terry Yeo in the men’s doubles.
Preliminary round play continues on Friday, March 29th with the remaining matches with Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and the Europe All Stars once again playing in DBL Arena, Surabaya, while the remaining teams will play their ties at the Stadium Badminton Cheras, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which will also be the venue for the playoff round on April 13th and 14th.
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