OLYMPICS Day 3 – Doubles seeds scatter early

Indonesia’s Ahsan/Septano caused the first exit of a seeded pair from the London with their first ever win over Korea’s Ko/Yoo.  Meanwhile, four as yet winless pairs are clinging to lifelines.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Before Monday evening, Mohammed Ahsan / Bona Septano of Indonesia may have been winless against fourth-seeded Ko Sung Hyun Yoo Yeon Seong but this upset has certainly been in the making for some time.  After 3 straight-game losses to the Koreans, the two 23-year-old Indonesians have rallied this year and had 3 match points in their loss in February and were again 3 points away from beating Ko/Yoo last month in Singapore.

On Monday in Wembley Arena, though, they finally made good on those threats and put the Koreans down in two straight, despite allowing the favoured pair to tie the first game three times before taking it 24-22.  With an injury to Michael Logosz granting Thailand’s Issara/Jongjit a third win and a secure place atop Group B, the loss meant that the Koreans were the first seeded pair to be eliminated from any of the three doubles competitions at these Olympic Games.

Winless but not hopeless

Four other pairs are winless but still have mathematical chances of scraping by into the quarter-finals.  The most hopeful of these is likely Shinta Mulia Sari / Yao Lei of Singapore.  With India’s Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa beating Cheng/Chien of Chinese Taipei, Sari/Yao now stand to enter a three-way tie for second place in women’s doubles Group B if both remaining matches go to the higher-ranked pair.

For Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying, things are slightly trickier.  Like the Singaporeans, they are relying on the seeded pair, in this case China’s Xu/Ma, to put down Cheng Wen Hsing and partner.  However, they need that to happen in straight games, while having the same luck in their own match against Thailand’s Prapakamol/Thoungthongkam, in order to come out on top in their own tie among three pairs with 1-2 records.

Hong Kong’s Poon/Tse similarly need to pull off an upset to come out on top of a three-way tie in their women’s doubles group.  Like Chan/Goh in mixed, the Hong Kong youngsters just need a victory over an opponent with whom they so far have an even head-to-head record.

The fourth pair in this position is Canada’s Toby Ng / Grace Gao.  They are hoping for a miracle that will help them best Poland’s Mateusiak/Zieba, whom they have never played.  They too need a straight-game victory and an accompanying win from fourth seeds Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen.

Korea’s ladies only bright spot

Ko and Yoo were not the only ones to face disappointment on Monday.  Defending mixed doubles champion Lee Yong Dae had already gone down with partner Ha Jung Eun, as had women’s singles shuttler Sung Ji Hyun.  The only good news for Korea was the pair of wins for their two women’s doubles pairs.  Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung took their second victory as expected, despite a close second game against Australians Choo/Veeran and they will face off against Indonesia’s Jauhari/Polii to avoid an undesirable yet almost certain quarter-final encounter with China’s overwhelming gold medal favourites Wang/Yu.

Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na had their work cut out for them against Russia’s Sorokina/Vislova.  It was their first meeting but both Koreans had played some desperately close matches with this Russian pair with other partners.  Nor did their Monday match disappoint.

Korea’s official badminton broadcaster MBC televised the match with a caption reading ‘Beautiful Women’s Doubles Pair Jung Kyung Eun / Kim Ha Na’ and got the images of victory they were looking for as the young Koreans weathered a late rally by the Russians in the first game before finishing it 23-21, 21-18.

Unfortunately for the Koreans, it is possible that only a victory over Wang/Yu on Tuesday evening can keep them from having to play their compatriots Ha Jung Eun / Kim Min Jung in the quarter-finals.

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