FRENCH OPEN 2013 R16 – Mitani confirms, Rumbaka breaks the chain

Defending champion Minatsu Mitani breezed past Europe’s best Juliane Schenk into the quarter-final of the Yonex French Open Superseries while Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka won a 84-minute all-Indonesian battle. By Tarek […]

Defending champion Minatsu Mitani breezed past Europe’s best Juliane Schenk into the quarter-final of the Yonex while Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka won a 84-minute all-Indonesian battle.

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

Minatsu Mitani’s reciprocal relationship with the French Open Superseries was in effect once again on the court of the Pierre de Coubertin Hall on Thursday.  Winner of last year’s title, she defeated with ease the world number three Juliane Schenk and rushes to the quarter-final.  Meanwhile, Indonesia’s Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka (pictured) proved he could show wonderful fighting spirit when he battled for nearly an hour and a half against his more famous compatriot Sony Dwi Kuncoro.

It is tradition now to get a packed stadium from the first days onward and today was no exception.  A supportive French crowd came to witness the highest level of badminton in the Pierre de Coubertin arena, with majestic encounters from the very first matches.

Criticized recently by his own opponent of the day for his lack of fighting spirit, Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka proved out how wrong that assessment was.  One hour and twenty-for minutes were needed for the Indonesian to get rid of his veteran compatriot Sony Dwi Kuncoro.

The marathon match ended in an intense mental battle, which seemed to go Rumbaka’s way.  The younger challenger constantly leading in the deciding game, until Sony Dwi Kuncoro’s hurt pride urged him to rally from 15-19 to a late 20-19 lead.

When I saw him coming back, I had no other thoughts than winning. I kept on saying to myself, ‘I have to win, no matter what’,” confessed Rumbaka.  And fight back he did indeed, to save two match points with the help of the net and his opponent misjudgements.

It was a good ending and a pleasant belated birthday gift for Rumbaka, who turned twenty-five years old on Day 1 of the tournament.  The final score was a telling 21-15, 17-21, 24-22.

Shortly thereafter, current French Open Superseries titleholder Minatsu Mitani (pictured) of Japan proved how comfortable she was on French soil, insolently sending off the world #3, and European #1, Juliane Schenk.  Mitani exuded confidence from the very start and defeated the German talent in straight games 21-18, 21-14.

The up and coming Japanese lady will be given a non-negligible chance in the quarter-final tomorrow, as she will meet Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk, against whom she holds a better head-to-head record and she is looking forward to stunning the French crowd for a second year in a row.

Thursday also saw three upsets from visitors from across the channel.  The very first match of the day saw another feat for Andrew Ellis and Chris Adcock.  Back to competition after short hiatus, the English pair made it clear to the quarter-final, after an arduous fight against Korea’s World Championship semi-finalists Kim Ki Jung and Kim Sa Rang.

They kept their run alive and sealed the match after three tremendous games to join the last eight.  Normally excellent defenders, the two Korean players couldn’t cope with the pace in the very last rallies, where they were constantly and severely attacked.

Despite several reprimands from the umpire for line-call disputes, the English pair never once let their concentration waver.  After yesterday’s upset over a scratch pair of Chinese aces, posted this incredible 22-20, 19-21, 21-18 win over a now established top 10 pair.

Adcock also made it through in the mixed doubles but an even bigger upset for the British Isles came when Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour (pictured) beat in-form P. V. Sindhu of India.  Gilmour may be in form herself, but her opponent was, of course, coming off an upset of Denmark Open finalist Sung Ji Hyun and just two months ago eliminated Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian from the World Championships.  Gilmour goes up against Bae Yeon Ju in the quarter-finals.

Click here for complete Round of 16 results from Paris

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