SUDIRMAN CUP 2011 Day 2 – No stroll in the Park for Korea

It may be the first day some teams step up to play their tie, but to some teams – especially England – it was more like a match to bet […]

It may be the first day some teams step up to play their tie, but to some teams – especially England – it was more like a match to bet how well they have recovered from last night’s marathon. The afternoon proved that England was – rather than exhausted – more eager for a victory to keep the door to the quarter-finals open. Despite Rajiv Ouseph’s big surprise, the door slammed shut for England with a 1-4 defeat against Korea, while Japan closed the door for Germany.

By Ooi Ee Lyn. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

The Koreans told us with actions that it is most safe to always be prepared for possible misfortunes. They, who were famed for experimenting with odd pairings in the round robins, had fielded one of their strongest line-ups for the afternoon. Clearly, it was a smart move and a hint that they were aware of a slippery floor against England.

The opening game saw world #13 Nathan Robertson / Jenny Wallwork warming up the courts for a mixed doubles match against Olympic gold medallist Lee Yong Dae in his recently renewed partnership with Ha Jung Eun. It took some time for the Korean Swiss Open semi-finalists to warm up – this being their first match of the week – before they took it in three games of 19-21, 21-17, 21-15 from the runner-ups in Basel last March.

Up came Swiss Open champion Park Sung Hwan to accept the challenge from Rajiv Ouseph, who was just as aggressive today as he had been in the game with Peter Gade last night. Call it a fluke or that hard work will always be returned with what you’ve worked for, but it was Ouseph who plotted to keep Park running after his shots and finally had a taste of victory, as Gade witnessed the game from the comfort of the seats. The 24-year-old stomped the Korean in straight games of 25-23, 21-16, noting one of the biggest personal wins in his career.

I played well yesterday against Gade and it gave me confidence for today’s game. I had never played Park in the senior circuit and I am really happy that I could pull off a win and give England their first point today,” said Ouseph post-match.

I consider this as one of my best victories ever as Park is one of the top players. Of course, he might have not have played his best, and I had the advantage of having played in these conditions yesterday, but it’s definitely a win I will take with me to get good confidence.

Not forgetting to credit this big win to his coach, Ouseph continued, “Kenneth Jonassen’s arrival has made difference for us. He’s a former top player and strategy-wise, he’s taught us a lot.

On the other hand, Korean chief coach Sung Han Kook commented on Park’s defeat saying, “For some reasons, Park Sung Hwan felt nervous and we didn’t know why. But in a way, it is better that we played England first to be ready for Denmark.”

Ellis/Adcock, the men who almost grabbed a point for England last night, were left to rest and watch from the bench today while Austrian champion Anthony Clark / Christopher Langridge took the baton to face yet another Swiss Open champion from Korea, Yoo Yeon Seong / Ko Sung Hyun.

Like the drift in the stadium, breeze is not something that can easily be controlled. With the wind blowing in the faces of the Koreans, Yoo/Ko breezed through Clark/Langridge 21-16, 21-13 in 34 minutes without much effort.

World #6 women’s singles Bae Youn Joo, following Korea’s 2-1 lead was again caught on the slippery floors of England. Elizabeth Cann, ranked world #42 stole the first game 21-18, scaring the sweat out of Bae that the latter then struggled and strived for a 21-18 win on her side in the second match. Finally, it was the Korean who enjoyed the drift and ended the game 21-8, securing a quarter-final spot for the team.

Kim Min Jung / Ha Jung Eun then ended the tie, winning 21-9, 21-8 from Jenny Wallwork – who had played four matches in less than 24 hours – and Gabrielle White in the women’s doubles.

The Koreans will be playing against Denmark in the next group tie on Wednesday and their chief coach Sung had said, “We’ve just came out of our try out sessions back home, so we need a bit of time to get into the spirit. I think the players are ready physically, but they need to get ready psychologically. It’s the first day and I think we’ll be ready for Denmark for the next tie. We’ve won the before, so we know how it feels to be in the position and hopefully we can do it again. We just need time to get going.

On the adjacent court was Germany, still fresh from the defeat by China last afternoon, competing with Japan in the former’s second and final tie of the championship. Japan’s beautiful start with a 3-0 win shattered Germany’s hope of a peek into the quarter-finals, sending them out to accompany England on the other side of the bank.

Juliane Schenk’s victory over Eriko Hirose was perhaps the best consolation for the Germans this afternoon before their journey racing for the cup ended with a 4-1 defeat after Sandra Marinello / Birgit Michels’ loss to Suetsuna Satoko / Maeda Miyuki in 21-16, 21-11 .

In the quieter corners of the stadium, Sri Lanka and Iceland both shared good news as they triumphed over Israel and Seychelles Islands respectively, in 5-0. It was especially meaningful that the Sri Lankan Karunarathna brothers, Niluka Karunarathna and his younger brother Dinuka Karunarathna had contributed to three of five points in the tie by winning the mixed doubles, men’s singles and also the men’s doubles disciplines.

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