It has been a tough day for the women’s doubles of Malaysia, as the team lost all eight pairs in the first round of the Maybank Malaysia Open today. The Koreans successfully avoided the same fate as the home ground players, as Ko A Ra / Yoo Hae Won became only the surviving women’s pair from Korea after ousting seventh seeds Meiliana Jauhari / Greysia Polii. On the other hand, Boonsak Ponsana and Taufik Hidayat both survived the battle with their respective opponents – and the wind – on the middle court of the stadium.
By Ooi Ee Lyn, Badzine Correspondent live in Kuala Lumpur. Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)
The spectator seats have yet to be fully occupied, but World Junior Champions Lee So Hee / Shin Seung Chan (photo) gained attention at the stadium this afternoon as they grabbed the first game from sixth seeds Ma Jin / Tang Jinhua. Despite ceding the opener to the Korean youngsters, Ma / Tang managed to avoid the loss by coming back 21-17 and 21-13 in the following games.
Retreating backstage worriedly following the hard-earned win, Ma Jin said, “We’ve not adapted to the venue, and we don’t know our opponents. We’ve never met them. Now, we’ll need to get back to our coach and see what he has to say.” The Chinese will face Pradnya Gadre / Ashwini Ponnappa of India tomorrow to pick out a pair to show up in the quarter-finals.
Not long before Lee/Shin’s loss, Choi Hye In / Kim So Young left the tournament ground as they bowed down to Indonesia’s Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth / Rizki Amelia Pradipta. Both pairs from Korea started off claiming the first game, only to end up defeated, but fortunately, the curse was soon broken by Ko A Ra / Yoo Hae Won (photo), who lost their first game and claimed the next two to triumph over Meiliana Jauhari / Greysia Polii in 13-21, 21-19, 21-18.
Malaysian Titanic in women’s doubles
Not as fortunate as the Koreans, Malaysia’s women’s doubles ship sank, and all local ladies drowned in the attack of their opponents before the eyes of the local crowd. Malaysia had a total of eight women’s doubles pairs – the qualifiers filled up all four qualifying spots to join the pairs already in the main draw – but occupying a quarter of the 32 pairs on the main game did not increase their chance of advancing further.
Among them Ho Yen Mei and Yap Rui Chen, who surrendered to the attack of Jillie Cooper / Gilmour from Scotland, were originally women’s singles players. Ho expressed her satisfaction of their match despite the defeat: “I think we played quite well. We didn’t expect to make it to a rubber set. We just partnered this year and we never trained as doubles players, as we both play singles. We just came here and played as a pair. We didn’t have a coach too [for singles], since Wong Mew Choo left.”
The 17-year-olds had been training as single players for more than two years, but they both stated that singles is tougher than doubles. Ho lost to Adrianti Firdasari in straight games in the women’s singles, while Yap failed to qualify for the main draw after losing in the first round of the qualifiers yesterday.
Earlier in the day, Shevon Jemie Lai / Marylen Ng (photo) forced defending champions Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl to a third game before raising the white flag in defeat
“We’ve only partnered for five months. Losing is as expected, but we performed better than we thought we would. We made too many mistakes in the decider, and that caused us to lose the match,” said Lai.
The Malaysians have also earned compliments from their more experienced opponents, as Rytter Juhl remarked, “The Malaysian youngsters were not bad, they won the first game. But after we won the second game, we found the feeling of victory. We were satisfied with our results in 2012, and our aim this year is to win at least one title.”
Disturbing wind on court one
Surviving a tough match against Marc Zwiebler, Boonsak Ponsana (photo) made it forward to round 16 to meet home ground hero Lee Chong Wei, who halted Viktor Axelsen. The Thai loss the first game to constant unforced errors, but had fortunately hammered the following games in his favour.
“The first set was hard because of the wind. I tried my best, but due to the wind, I had to fight faster,” explained Boonsak. After suffering a first round defeat to Sony Dwi Kuncoro in Korea last week and having to struggle to make it past round one in Malaysia, the soft-spoken Thai expressed his loss of confidence in his games. “I’m in a low form lately, and I’ve actually lost my confidence. I’m trying hard to come back up. Badminton is my life, so as long as I can still walk, and as my body can still play, I will continue to play badminton,” he said, indicating that he will most possibly return to Malaysia for the same event next year.
Regarding his thoughts of his match against Malaysia’s national hero tomorrow, he smiled, and shook his head gently as he said, “I’ve played Lee Chong Wei SO many times in the last six months, and I’ve never won. He’s a tough opponent, and he’s fast. But I will try – anything can happen.”
The veteran, who will be turning 31 next month, also expressed his thoughts on the upcoming players of his country, saying, “The ladies are good, but the men’s singles need more time to gain experience. I hope more of them will come up soon.”
Just as he had wished, fresh qualifier Suppanyu Avihingsanon earned himself a ticket to the next round by triumphing over China’s best man in the tournament, Wang Zhengming, in straight games of 21-16, 21-16, leaving Gao Huan the only Chinese challenger in the men’s singles for round two. Suppanyu will meet Hans-Kristian Vittinghus tomorrow, after the Dane earned his own birthday present this evening by beating Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne, while Gao Huan faces Sony Dwi Kuncoro for a ticket to the quarter-finals.
On the other hand, Taufik Hidayat (photo) who survived the bullets from 3rd seed Nguyen Tien Minh, added evidence to Boonsak’s claim that the court which they played their matches on was disturbingly windy: “I lost the first set and only got 9? Or was it 10? There was wind, and I couldn’t control the game well.”
The Indonesian had praises for both of his potential opponents of round two, but the man who will be in his way tomorrow is Liew Daren, fresh from earning a victory against Ajay Jayaram of India. However, later in the day, Taufik had withdrawn from the tournament due to an injury certified by the team doctor, forcing the veteran to end his very last Malaysia Open sooner than he could have progressed.
Taufik had made the headlines earlier in the day when he gave an interview to Reuters, mentionning that he was not sure that the sport would still be in the Olympic program after all the withdrawals from Chinese players in the recent Korea Open. (Click here for the interview in the Star) However, the Indonesian himself had to grant a pass to his second round opponent, withdrawing injured.
“My best memory here in Bukit Jalil was when we won the Thomas Cup in year 2000,” Taufik said after his match, but before announcing his withdrawal. “I won Malaysia Open, but it wasn’t here in Bukit Jalil.
“During the Thomas Cup, we were in a 2-2 tie against Denmark, and I remember watching the last singles match from the door right here. That’s why I remember that it was here in Bukit Jalil.”
As this is his last Malaysia Open, he said “I might come back to watch the games, but never to play.”
Mixed doubles first seeds Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying came out alive from a thrilling match against Sudket Prapakamol / Duanganong Aroonkesorn after ending it in 21-8, 15-21, 23-21. In reply to a local journalist’s question of ‘What happened today’, Chan exclaimed, “You saw what happened!” Goh added on saying, “My injury is bothering me, but I try to give my 100%.” As Chan mentioned, their performance is dropping, “but we’ll try to regain confidence with this victory.” The first seeded Malaysians will then meet Mads Pierler Kolding / Kamilla Rutter Juhl tomorrow in hope of revenging for their fellow comrades, Ong Jian Guo / Lim Yin Loo’s loss this evening.
Two courts away from the windy patch of ground, Chai Biao / Liu Xiaolong got the better of third seeds Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang 21-18, 21-19, leaving Kang Ji Wook / Lee Sang Joon, who defeated Songphon Anugritayawon / Sudket Prapakamol in straight games, to accompany Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae in their challenge tomorrow evening.
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