HONG KONG OPEN 2013 R32 – Hits and misses

Day 2 of the Hong Kong Open had many hits and misses as the fatigue from back-to-back tournaments takes its toll on players, resulting in several upsets among the victories. […]

Day 2 of the had many hits and misses as the fatigue from back-to-back tournaments takes its toll on players, resulting in several upsets among the victories.

By Adrian Kok, Photos: Raphael Sachetat for Badmintonphoto

The men

World No.1 Lee Chong Wei, who skipped the China Open last week, is now fit and ready for action. He performed well in his first round match against Srikanth K., which he won comfortably. However the same cannot be said for the second seeded Chinese man in the draw, Du Pengyu (pictured left), as he was comprehensively beaten by England’s Rajiv Ouseph (pictured left) in straight games.

More attention was drawn to Chong Wei Feng, semi-finalist in last week’s China Open, as the 26-year-old Malaysian managed pull off a win against the Japanese veteran, Sho Sasaki.  It was a close match in the first game as Sasaki managed to level the score at 17-all. Even so, that did not manage to break Wei Feng’s hunger for victory as he was only briefly interrupted powering on to take the 4 points to close the first game. The Japanese player suffered, as Wei Feng was more fit than his opponent, giving him a hand to a big lead throughout the second game, eventually wrapping up the match in just 36 minutes. This may be the end of the road for him though, as he will face his fellow compatriot Lee Chong Wei in the second round tomorrow.

Denmark’s rising star Viktor Axelsen (pictured right) is through the first round after defeating Kazumasa Sakai. It was a gruelling match as both of them had to dig deep into their reserve for the rubber game. Youth favoured the Dane as Sakai was unable to keep up with the pace. In the second round tomorrow, Viktor will face Tommy Sugiarto in a repeat of the first round of China Open, where the Dane lost in 3 games.

Du Pengyu’s slim chance at qualifying for the Finals is now out the window, as is that of Chen Long, who withdrew to be passed first by Takuma Ueda and then by Hong Kong’s Hu Yun.  Hu is now the only shuttler in men’s singles whose place in Kuala Lumpur is still at a slight risk to a miracle by Ajay Jayaram or Marc Zwiebler.

The recent victory in China Open has made the new Korean pair of Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong hungry for more, and so they tamed the Indonesia pair Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki and Hendra Aprida Gunawan in straight games without drama. The Koreans will next face the 3rd seed pair from China, Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan. It is a match to look out for as both pairs are eager to stand on the podium, however win or lose, the Chinese pair have already booked a place in the Superseries finals while the Koreans would need several withdrawals on top of a strong performance in Hong Kong.

Having beaten Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy B in the first round of the China Open, the Russian pair of Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov repeated the feat in a similar fashion today. The Europeans again won in straight games, with a walk in the park for the Russian in the first game. However the Indians gave a stronger fight in the second, but eventually lost. It will be an uphill task in round two for the Russians, as they will face the current Olympic champions, a reunited Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng (pictured left).

The women

Ratchanok Intanon (pictured below), one of those fighting against the Chinese dominance in women singles, today beat P. V. Sindhu in straight games. This is the second time they have met and Ratchanok reinforced her head-to-head lead. In both games, Sindhu was unable to add the pressure needed to close the game, the Thai instead taking the opportunity to raise her game and emerge victorious. The 18-year-old Thai will play Bae Yeon Ju, the players having met twice and each taking one victory, but a victory most recently for Ratchanok. It will be an interesting match tomorrow as both players have evolved through the year and will bring their best on court.

Local heroine Yip Pui Yin played an epic match today against the world number 11, Minatsu Mitani of Japan. The match lasted for an hour and ten minutes before Minatsu emerged triumphant. In the first 2 games, both games we tightly matched, with the winner determined in additional points. The length of the match drained Pui Yin of her stamina, who was not able to keep up. The Japanese player progressed to face the Chinese Taipei teenager, Tai Tzu Ying tomorrow.

Japan also saw further success, as just 9 points into the game, Sung Ji Hyun retired suffering from an injury after stepping on court cemented her Superseries Finals qualification. This give Aya Ohori some time to rest, to face either her team-mate Yui Hashimoto or Han Li of China in the next round.

The English pair of Lauren Smith and Gabrielle White played against the 3rd seeded pair of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi.  After being tied at 5 all in the first game, the English pair found it challenging and were playing catch up with their opponents. Throughout the second game the Japanese pair held a huge lead early on in the game. In just over half an hour, the Japanese pair won in straight games and will be up against Wang Rong and Zhang Zhibo next. Based on the rankings, the Japanese should not be faced with much drama and should sail through to the third round.

The mixed

Malaysian’s top mixed doubles pair, Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying, are doing their best to revive their struggling recent form. In the first round they played a tiring rubber match with Gideon Markus Fernaldi and Rizki Amelia Pradipta. The Malaysians lost the first match by a whisker, the Indonesians sniffed an upset, but were stopped as Chan/Goh were able to bounce back in the second game. The fifth ranked pair played with more tenacity and continued through to the rubber game. Round 2 will see the Malaysians faced with challenging prospect of Birgit Michels and Michael Fuchs, who they beat previously in round 2 of China Open. This will give the Germans a chance to avenge their defeat in the closest of games, the final score then being 22-20 30-28, and the Malaysians a chance to show some consistency.

Complete Wednesday results can be found here

About Adrian Kok