FRENCH OPEN 2013 Day 1 – Last year’s finalists out

The French Superseries saw its reigning champion, Malaysia’s Liew Daren, suffering a bitter loss in his very first match against Thailand’s prince Boonsak Ponsana, followed a few minutes later by […]

The French saw its reigning champion, Malaysia’s Liew Daren, suffering a bitter loss in his very first match against Thailand’s prince Boonsak Ponsana, followed a few minutes later by 2012 runner-up Viktor Axelsen.

By Tarek Hafi, live in Paris.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

The 2013 quickly became a terrible disappointment for defending men’s singles champion Liew Daren.  Despite an injury, the world #16 Malaysian took Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana to a rubber game where he collapsed and had to watch  his veteran opponent obtain his ticket to the second round.  Thus Liew left the Pierre de Coubertin courts in the very first round, when exactly a year ago he had grabbed the title after a fantastic run where he defeated top players along the way.

The Malaysian was confident before the match, as Thailand’s number one had beaten him in neither of their two previous encounters. He banked on that confidence to bag the first game, 21-15. Boonsak probably thought it was unfair to not bring him to a rubber game and closed the second by the same score 21-15.

The third game looked like it was a done deal for the Malaysian, who dominated the rallies, creating a gap of 18-11 between him and his opponent. However, Boonsak Ponsana is not one to be impressed and he again proved this with very smart tactics that allowed him to catch back up. The Thai forced Daren to play at the net, and made him run back and forth, exhausting out his opponent before nailing the decider 21-19.

I was too tired in the end to come up with anything, I hope now to learn from this loss and come back stronger,” admitted a very sad Liew Daren, obviously very hurt by this early exit.

Another casualty was reported few minutes later with Viktor Axelsen, last year’s beaten finalist. The tall Dane happened to be only the shadow of himself, being completely swept out by Indonesia’s Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka in only 29 minutes of play, 21-12, 21-9, another loss which renders the French Superseries orphan of it’s 2012’s men’s singles winner and finalist.

Earlier in the day, the French spectators had a rare opportunity to witness two former Olympic champions playing in the qualifications round, as Korean star Lee Yong Dae, in action just two days after his men’s doubles victory in Denmark, was active in the mixed doubles.  The former olympic mixed doubles champion, only had ranking points from two tournaments at the time he and his younger teammate Shin Seung Chan were placed in the qualifying category for France.  They started off with a victory over another pairing of former World Junior Champions, disposing of Liu Cheng and Bao Yixin, the latter being another player who was coming directly from a Denmark Open title only two days earlier.

Later during the day, it was the turn of 2008 Olympic men’s double champion Markis Kido to step on court, with Gideon Markus Fernaldi, his new younger club partner.  Kido graced the court with his powerful smashes. Logically the two top-stars led the way to their current partners and joined the main draw at the French Open Super Series 2013.

The local hero of the day, Thomas Rouxel, beat  two top 50 players back-to-back- Thailand’s Suppanyu Avihingsanon, then Christian Lind Thomsen from Denmark.

This is just incredible,” said the Frenchman.  “I wasn’t feeling too well before this tournament, which is my first Superseries, and the public gave me wings. It’s a great feeling, really. Maybe it will be a turning point in my career.

Click here for complete Day 1 results from Paris

About Tarek Hafi