SUDIRMAN CUP 2011 Day 4 – Double trouble for Denmark

It was a  big day – or rather an evening – to the elite groups, as it wasn’t only the night before quarter-finals, it was as well, the night they’ll […]

It was a  big day – or rather an evening – to the elite groups, as it wasn’t only the night before quarter-finals, it was as well, the night they’ll be introduced to their challengers in the next round. The four big names on court today may be totally capable of putting up a deadly competition, but at least tonight losing was nothing close to a death sentence. With the teams sending out their best, Malaysia failed to play the song of triumph before Indonesia while Korea relied on the strength of their doubles to clinch a 3-2 victory from Denmark.

By Don Hearn and Ooi Ee Lyn, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live).

Korea made all the logical choices with their line-up of the night. Ko Sung Hyun / Ha Jung Eun won their last meeting with Laybourn / Rytter Juhl, just months before the Danes took the World Championship title in 2009, and thus they were put to play in the opening match today. Ko / Ha then lived to the expectations of the team, taking the match in straight games.

Park Sung Hwan, who has only beaten Peter Gade once and has lost to him twice in team events recently, was allowed to rest while Lee Hyun Il, who won his last meeting against Gade just before the point system change became permanent, was brought in to keep the crafty Dane guessing.

Still, while Ko / Ha, might have been counted on to produce against a Thomas Laybourn so recently returned from the injured list, when Lee Hyun Il held match point against Peter Gade (photo), it must have seemed like more than the Koreans could have wished for.  Gade, however, snatched the dream of a 2-0 lead from Lee’s fingertips and replaced it with a dose of reality as the favourite pulled out the 8-1 run late in the decider , from 14-19, to take the match 15-21, 21-18, 22-20 and even the tie at one match apiece.

“I kept fighting”

The Dane was exuberant after his win. “I was prepared to play Lee Hyun Il. I had beaten Park many times in team events and I was prepared to face Hyun Il. We haven’t played each other for years but I’m really glad I could pull it off today. This was a fantastic match to play. I got off quite badly as he was patient, steady and didn’t make any mistakes, and playing near the base line. But I kept believing I could win and I kept fighting. I may not have played my very best badminton but I was still able to pull it off.

I knew this game was so important that I had to keep going; I almost lost it and I was trailing at the end but I kept my momentum and could catch back. The crowd was amazing and did give me that extra bit,” exclaimed Gade.

To take on the mighty Boe / Mogensen in men’s doubles, Lee Yong Dae / Jung Jae Sung (photo) were the only logical choice. Korea’s other pair of Ko / Yoo have never beaten the Danes while Lee / Jung have seen their share of success, most recently in the one-sided final of the Korea Open in January.

Lee predicted that it would be a fun match, and have previously remarked to Badminton Korea magazine that, “We have beaten them before so we know how we have to play.” After an evidently exciting match, the Koreans proved themselves right that they knew the play they would have to put up to win, stealing the match 25-23, 16-21, 21-14 in an hour and 15 minutes.

Tine’s back

In the women’s singles match, Sung Ji Hyun (photo) was obviously chosen because she had beaten Tine Baun (photo) at the Korea Open last year, while Bae Youn Joo has not played the Danish veteran. However, the young Korean missed the hammer and thus the chance to wrap the tie for the team. Sung earned the first game 21-18, but the aggressive Dane was certain she had to return the gift from the Korean, and flung it right back, winning with two other games of 21-18.

I’m very glad that I could pull this off as it shows I’m not far from my best level. I had it in me but I’m glad I could manage to win this victory. Now, I hope that we can pull the final win as I’d like to have our faith in our own hands to avoid China in the quarters. I’d love to play against them, but the later, the better,” said Baun, who also hinted that the Chinese ladies could be a bit shaky on the spot as proven by Wang Shixian’s loss to Juliane Schenk.

With Lee Hyun Il and Sung Ji Hyun who originally were expected to contribute points to the team failed to make it, the tie fell into a stalemate of 2-2, and Korea – yet again – was back to doubles reliance, like they always have been in team events previously, often with Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung playing twice.

Now that the Olympic silver medallist pair of Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Kyung Won have retired, it was on the shoulders of Ha Jung Eun – who starred twice this time – and Kim Min Jung that were carried the last hopes of the team. The crowd was then told – by actions – that the doubles players in Korea have shoulders strong enough to bear the responsibility as Ha / Kim silenced Denmark’s Marie Røpke / Line Kruse very soon, in straight games of 21-10, 21-18.

Indonesia still on top

In this latest instalment of the Indonesia versus Malaysia saga, the first three matches seemed to have been decided before the tournament began. Taufik’s withdrawal virtually guaranteed a men’s singles point for Lee Chong Wei and Markis Kido’s injury gave Koo / Tan a significant edge in the men’s doubles. Meanwhile, the retirement of Wong Mew Choo left Malaysia depending on the youthful Lydia Cheah (photo), who was no match for Indonesia’s Adriyanti Firdasari, who spent less time disposing of her opponent than did the great Lee Chong Wei.

From then on, it was more or less anyone’s points.  However, Indonesia’s Polii / Jauhari, while not as decorated as their opponents, former world #1’s Wong Pei Tty / Chin Eei Hui, have been healthy and consistent of late and drove that point home as they kept the pressure on and dealt better with the wind en route to a 23-21, 21-14 victory.

It was fitting that this tie should come down to the mixed doubles, where Fran Kurniawan / Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth and Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (photo) would duke it out for the sixth time in the past year. The Indonesians, of course, have held the edge in this rivalry for most of that year but the 2010 Asian Champions had won their last meeting, earlier this month at the Malaysia Grand Prix Gold. These four players were healthy and in form, and both hungry for the win here in Qingdao.

In the end it was the Indonesians who were joyfully fed, gobbling the victory in 21-18, 21-15, nourishing as well the entire team, as Indonesia beat Malaysia 3-2.

On the other courts in the evening, South Africa received the second ‘nil’ on their report card after being unable to defend a single point against Sweden. While on the other hand, Czech Republic and Canada both ended the night with good news, beating Peru and the United States 4-1 and 3-2, respectively.

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About Ee-Lyn Ooi