AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2012 QF – Bae’s (Good Fri)day

Quarter-finals (Good Fri)day at the Australian Open was a Happy Easter for Korea’s Bae Youn Joo. By Aaron Wong, live from Sydney. Photos: Andrew Greenway, Courtesy of Badminton Australia (live) […]

Quarter-finals (Good Fri)day at the was a Happy Easter for Korea’s Bae Youn Joo.

By Aaron Wong, live from Sydney. Photos: Andrew Greenway, Courtesy of Badminton Australia (live)

Four o’clock on a Good Friday public holiday which is also the start of school holidays, Wang Lin of China and Bae Youn Joo of Korea had the honour of being the opening attraction to a maximum capacity crowd that had come to marvel at three World Champions playing badminton in Sydney, many for the first time in their lives.

The ladies did not disappoint, delivering an hour and three minutes of cheers and gasps including two heart-stopping moments that were worth the price of admission alone.

Third time lucky but… there’s a but…

For the third consecutive time this week, at a crucial juncture, 19-18 behind in the second game, and one game down, a net shot from 2010 World Champion Wang Lin resuscitated her campaign towards the final and she made the most of it to grab the game 23-21.

Rather kind of the protagonists to acquaint their audience with the elements of their different styles first, the intensity would grow from lukewarm with both players possibly mistaken for appearing in an exhibition match.  Rallies consisted of three-quarter-court clears which were an attempt to get used to the conditions and size up each other’s prowess.

Bae Youn Joo has not played Wang Lin since their World Junior Championship final back in 2007, also her last trip to Oceania; and Wang was about to play a foreign top ten calibre player which has rarely happened in the last eight months.

Who got the cheers, who got the gasps

Bae made the first move using her weave of straight high clears and cross drop shots to catch Wang out and seize the opening game 21-14.  The action heated up in the second game with the Chinese drawing cheers for smashing winners to punish any conservative returns whenever the Korean lost her nerve as a result of dealing with the drift in the hall.

The Korean, on the other hand, drew gasps by rescuing and inventing lovely net play to follow up her smash returns.  At 4-7 in the second game, Bae felt she won a point and was surprised to be penalised for a racquet over the net.

Wang’s Match Point

The deciding game also went into extra points.  Bae looked like she would be the obvious victor when leading 20-17 but Wang, as we had come to expect, somehow through strong self belief, reeled the situation to 21-20, thus earning her own precious match point.

It was now or never and each lady, playing to her fullest capacity, continued betting on the winning game plan that had got her this far.  So Wang went for her smashes and Bae stayed with long rallies, at full stretch, and net play par excellence.  In going for her naturally aggressive power shots, Wang missed the lines by a whisker which cost herself the match.

It was 21-14, 21-23, 23-21 to the Korean, who gave a positive assessment of her Chinese opponent after the match: “Her skills may not be the same version that I used to know, but I realise it was just her last few unforced errors that meant my victory today.”

“Playing at this level of competition regularly again is where I want to be,” added Wang Lin.

Click here for complete results

Aaron Wong

About Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong only ever coveted badminton's coolest shot - a reverse backhand clear. He is renowned for two other things: 1) Writing tournament previews that adjust the focus between the panorama of the sport's progress, down to the microscopic level of explaining the striking characteristics of players; 2) Dozing off during men's doubles at the London Olympic Games. Contact him at: aaron @