SUDIRMAN CUP 2013 QF – Close call for China

China almost printed their name on the book of worst records of the Sudirman Cup by not making it into the semi-finals for the first time in history. Indonesia came […]

China almost printed their name on the book of worst records of the by not making it into the semi-finals for the first time in history. Indonesia came close, but did not manage to be part of that history, as they did finally present China with their pass to the next round. Korea took revenge for Malaysia by ousting Germany, using only three out of five shots for the match.

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

It may have been unfortunate for Indonesia to have found that their quarter-final draw decided to put China in their way again right after they suffered a 0-5 defeat in the tie two days ago. On Tuesday, China, enraged by Indonesia’s claim to aim for a clean-sheet victory against them in the round-robins, fielded their ace team in acceptance of the challenge, only to find out that what Indonesia would send out was not their best.

This afternoon, Indonesia reshuffled the entire squad and allowed those who had taken their breaks on Tuesday to go up against the defending champions. Exhausted from the previous match, Xu Chen / Ma Jin dropped the first point – unexpectedly – to Tontowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir (pictured below). It was the first time in ten years that China had lost the mixed doubles discipline in the Sudirman Cup. The defending champions had aimed at not losing a single game in the entire event on foreign soil for the first time since the beginning of the mixed team championship in 1989, but their dream was shattered with the downfall of their mixed doubles.

We did preparations for the match, but it wasn’t sufficient. We’ve met the Indonesian pair many times. I think the main thing is that I did not play well today. Ma Jin did well, and our opponents did well, but when we had a big lead, I did not keep to our style of play well,” said Xu, taking all the blame.

Our opponents controlled the shuttle better than we did. When we get nervous, it’s harder for us to concentrate. It’s basically a psychological factor,” added Ma Jin.

Taking over the grounds, it was Chen Long who did his part well in living up to the past results of his predecessor. Chen took the match from Tommy Sugiarto and levelled the point for China, only to see the balance lost once again when Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng (pictured above) were beaten by Rian Agung Saputra / Angga Pratama after three tough games. China was then at the edge of getting kicked out of the Sudirman Cup, trailing Indonesia 1-2 at the time.

While the Chinese were behind in the second game, Fu Haifeng was shown a yellow card after he flung his racquet onto the floor due to dissatisfaction of the judge’s decision regarding his service. To that, Fu Haifeng raised his voice at the post-match confession time, “Would you not be furious about that? There were unfair calls four times during the match!

Cai Yun, much calmer at the press conference then added, “Perhaps we’ve gotten too many titles, and the spectators are tired of that. That’s why things were going against us today. However, that’s normal. It could work as a test to the younger players in our team.

Fortunately for the Chinese team, London Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui then claimed the point from Lindaweni Fanetri and stopped Indonesia from receiving their semi-finals ticket before the women’s doubles could show up. Pulling the team back on balance at 2-2, Li said, “I’ve expected that the team might need me to go on court today. I knew if I was needed on court, we would either be leading 2-1 or losing 1-2. There was pressure, but I was determined to bring my team a point after trailing 1-2.

Losing would not be a problem, said Li Yongbo

Despite Indonesia losing the golden chance to wrap up the match in their greatest favour, Foreign Affairs manager Bambang Roedyanto spoke up, “Tell China, do not underestimate us with the young players. Tell them, we’re back!

The Indonesian supporters were enthusiastic and supportive from the stands, and so were their local journalists, but their scratch pair of Liliyana Natsir / Nitya Krishinda Maheswari fell short of overturning Yu Yang / Wang Xiaoli (pictured left) – one of four pairs caught in the Olympic controversy in London last year.

After the thrilling match, Li Yongbo commented, “It was a very exciting match. Both teams played very high quality games, and the young players from Indonesia performed very well – beyond my expectations – especially in the mixed doubles and men’s doubles. It has been a very long time since we’ve played such a tough match. Indonesia could have troubled any other teams if they weren’t so unlucky to have gotten China as their opponent again. They have a bright future.

He then continued to express his disappointment on the service judge’s judgement during the men’s doubles match. “It was an exciting match, but it’s a pity that the judgement was not fair. It affects our players. Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng could have won the match if it wasn’t for the unjust decision. However, anything can happen in the 21-point system, but I trusted our women’s singles and doubles.

China is currently on the run for their 5th consecutive win at the Sudirman Cup which would given them a total of nine titles. Nevertheless, Li Yongbo said, “It’s nothing big to let someone else win it for once. We’ve gotten it so many times, and probably we would just feel indifferent if we win it again this time. As long as the spectators get to enjoy good matches, it’s fine.

Indonesia: We did not lose. We’re coming back!

As soon as the Chinese head coach left the room, the Indonesian squad marched in with Bambang Roedyanto exclaiming, “We did not lose! We’re on the way back!

Chief de Mission Anton Subowo then explained about the match, saying, “There has to be a strategy in a team event. We have to win the first match in order to boost the spirit in the team, that’s why we put Liliyana to play in both the mixed doubles and women’s doubles categories – so she could win the first point for us.

Sitting at the press conference with a smile, Liliyana Natsir then said, “I’m not tired. I gained strength from the support of the team and supporters!

In fact, that was the final match of the Sudirman Cup! We have accomplished our goal!” stated Anton Subowo with a wide grin before leaving the hall to catch the bus to leave the stadium.

Surviving the close call, China will be playing against the winner between Chinese Taipei and Denmark in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Korea into the semis

Germany’s Sudirman Cup journey ended just as they set their all-time record of stepping foot on the quarter-final stage. Korea may have sent them off 3-0, but it wasn’t free of challenge, especially since Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (pictured left) and Lee Dong Keun were at a disadvantage before their German competitors in terms of head-to-head record – neither Korean having yet claimed a victory.

Michael Fuchs / Birgit Michels have had an eventful run since they set off on Monday, and they were one out of the only four pairs to have ever beaten Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na to date. Fortunately, Lady Luck was on the Koreans’ side, as Ko unwrapped his birthday present and won two points for the team with his victory in the mixed doubles with Kim, and in the men’s doubles with Lee Yong Dae. Korea also earned a point with Lee Dong Keun (pictured below) defeating Dieter Domke in the second match of the day.

I have no choice but to play for the team, as I am the only men’s singles player this time, but I am proud that I am now the number 1 men’s singles player for Korea, and it gives me confidence. I’ve been winning since the first day. All the matches I’ve played previously might have been tough, but it has allowed me to mature to a different level,” said Lee after his match against Domke.

Before the results are out for the second half of the quarter-finals matches, Korea is unsure who their next opponent would be – either Thailand or Japan – but the sole men singles warrior from Korea seems ready. “I’ve never played Boonsak or Tago before, but I’ve watched their matches and analysed them. I’m prepared. The momentum is on our side now, so I’m confident.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine might have secured their position as number one in Level 3 A, but they were determined to not drop a single tie, as they defeated New Zealand 5-0. Philippines – second of the group – took the match from Turkey, winning 3-2. In Group B of Level 2, former 14th placed France lost their match to Netherlands, winning only in the men’s singles by Brice Leverdez.

Thursday afternoon results:
Level 1 quarter-finals
China beat Indonesia 3-2
Korea beat Germany 3-0
Level 2
Netherlands beat France 4-1
Level 3
Ukraine beat New Zealand 5-0
Philippines beat Turkey 3-2

Click here for complete Day 5 results

About Ee-Lyn Ooi