SUDIRMAN CUP 2013 Day 3 – Takahashi sisters save the day

Teams who have already secured their spot in the quarter-finals now aim to be the best of their groups in hopes to avoid meeting China in the very first knockout […]

Teams who have already secured their spot in the quarter-finals now aim to be the best of their groups in hopes to avoid meeting China in the very first knockout rounds on Thursday. Indonesia hid their ace team and lost their tie against China this afternoon. Meanwhile, Japan’s Takahashi sisters – Sayaka and Ayaka Takahashi – each contributed a crucial point to the team, allowing Japan to emerge as Group D’s top team and the only one certain to avoid China in the quarter-finals.

By Ooi Ee Lyn, Badzine Correspondent live in Kuala Lumpur. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live).

In the afternoon session of Day 3, the elite division saw four big names – Denmark, Japan, China and Indonesia – on the list of matches. Though all of them have received their tickets to the quarter-finals, three out of four teams have plotted their strongest line-up for the day’s show. The spectator seats, finally, were closer to full than on the previous days – with most of the people paying for the priciest seats in order to get the best view of the middle courts.

On TV Court 1, where the tie between Denmark and Japan took place, the recently introduced instant review system was on demonstration, but players did not yet have the right to challenge the line calls. After surviving the bullets from Hirokatsu Hashimoto / Miyuki Maeda in three games, 2012 Superseries Final champions Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen brought Denmark their first point of the tie.

The mixed doubles match was exciting, but it became dull in comparison to the challenge between Kenichi Tago (pictured) and Jan O Jorgensen. After taking one game each, Tago and Jorgensen both found themselves in a swirl that went beyond the 21st point of the game. Earlier in the third game, Jorgensen was the one who was troubled by the calls from the line judges and a fault call from the umpire. However, when the deciding game arrived at the crucial moment with the Japanese leading 25-24, a point following a line call was given to the Dane to level the score although both players had thought that the match had already ended – where Tago would have taken it 26-24. Tago eventually did take the match, but he had to win the decider 27-25.

Tago: ‘CHALLENGE!’ …if I could

After the soul-thrilling moment that had the crowd behind cheering loudly for him, Tago spoke up when asked if he would have challenged the controversial line call had the instant review system been officially in use. He smiled and said, “Of course, I would have challenged that.

Having managed his first victory over the Dane after losing four consecutive times in the past two years, Tago said, “It was my first match of the tournament, and I was quite nervous. I didn’t move very well on court. I’m happy that I was able to win in the end.”

However, unlike many others, the Japanese no. 1 claimed to not care about winning. “I don’t mind about winning or not. According to head coach Park Joo Bong, our team’s goal is to make it to the last four; but for me personally, my aim is to play against Chen Long and Lee Chong Wei.

With the beam balancing on 1-1, 2012 Superseries Finals men’s doubles champions Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (pictured) broke the tie to help Denmark own the lead by beating Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa after battling for three games. However, the Danish team didn’t manage to keep stay ahead as Line Kjaersfeldt – their best ladies’ singles in the squad – failed to stop Japan’s second – Sayaka Takahashi (pictured top).

In the end, having the floor all to themselves, Sayaka Takahashi’s sister – Ayaka Takahashi, and Misaki Matsutomo finally brought Japan the hard-earned deciding point, this time handing a defeat to Danish Superseries Finals champion Christinna Pedersen and her partner Kamilla Rytter Juhl. Japan had then beaten Denmark 3-2 in their first ever victory over the Danes in the mixed team event.

Summing up the matches, Japan’s Head Coach Park Joo Bong said, “The women’s doubles is very important for us. Before the match, we knew that we must win both singles. Like I said yesterday, our mixed doubles is very weak. I think their performance today was very good. It is our first time beating Denmark as a team in the .

“I said our target is to enter the semi-finals because we’ve never entered the semi-finals in the Sudirman Cup. For the quarter-finals, no matter whether we play Malaysia, Korea or even Thailand, it’s all very hard. But it’s lucky for us that we don’t need to play China in the quarter-finals,” answered Park Joo Bong while laughing with a shock at the question as to whether a China-Japan final was possible. “We will talk about that after winning the quarter-finals,” he said.

Li Yongbo: It doesn’t matter who we play next

Indonesia kept their aces on the bench today for their tie against a fully-armed China although they had claimed to be hoping for a clean sweep. Despite only sending out a scratch pair in men’s doubles and their second-ranked lady for the women’s singles, Indonesia troubled China’s Olympic gold medallists before handing the first two points to the mighty defending champions. Hendra Setiawan / Angga Pratama stole the first game from Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng, and were close to claiming the second. Aprilia Yuswandari, too, took the starter from Li Xuerui (pictured), but trailed far behind in the next two.

It’s my first time playing in a major team event like this. It is very different compared to an individual event. When I’m playing for myself, I can forgive myself if I happen to lose; but in a team event, my teammates are all cheering for me, and it gives me pressure. It’s a motivation, but it’s also a form of pressure,” said Li, currently top of the world in women’s singles.

With two points in hand, Chen Long took his turn and silenced Tommy Sugiarto 21-17, 21-11. The round-robin of Group A finally ended with China’s clean sweep over Indonesia following the defeats of Greysia Polii / Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Muhammad Rijal / Debby Susanto by Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang and Xu Chen / Ma Jin respectively.

At the press conference, China’s head coach Li Yongbo was happy with the team’s performance today. “Two of our teams have played their matches. We’re more relaxed today because we’ve already secured a spot in the quarter-finals.

Regarding their opponent in the knock-out rounds, Li said “It doesn’t matter. Any team will do.

The draw for Thursday’s quarter-finals will be held later today, after the end of the matches in the evening session.

Meanwhile, Ukraine – former number five of the second division – triumphed over Sri Lanka 4-1 in Level 3. Sri Lanka’s only point was contributed by Edirimuni Niluka Rushan Perera Karunaratne, who hasn’t dropped a single game in the men’s singles matches he’s played so far. On the other hand, New Zealand, also in Level 3, and Russia from Level 2 defeated their respective opponents – Turkey and Sweden – 3-2.

Tuesday afternoon results:
Level 1
China beat Indonesia 5-0
Japan beat Denmark 3-2
Level 2
Russia beat Sweden 3-2
Level 3
Ukraine beat Sri Lanka 4-1
New Zealand beat Turkey 3-2

Click here for complete Day 3 results

About Ee-Lyn Ooi