AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2014 R32 – Achtung baby, Sydney!

A talkative Michael Fuchs shared about his plans to holiday for a further two weeks including Cairns on the itinerary but this will have to wait as he and Birgit […]

A talkative Michael Fuchs shared about his plans to holiday for a further two weeks including Cairns on the itinerary but this will have to wait as he and Birgit Michels caused the opening major upset of the tournament when they removed last week’s Indonesia Premier champions and world #4 Christinna Pedersen / Joachim Fischer Nielsen, 21-15, 14-21, 21-17.

By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Sydney.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

High serves were employed by both sides in the tense closing stages of one of the key early mixed doubles matches, one rendered even more important by the late withdrawal of the top seeds.  But it had less to do with nerves, observed Germany’s Michael Fuchs, who was looking for another break with partner Birgit Michels (pictured), ranked 9th in the world, after their brilliant run to the Japan Open final earlier this month.

“It is too predictable right when everyone is short serving to the centre? It is common practice lately to use it more and our coach agreed, we should mix up the predictability and it works,” said Fuchs after the Germans had finally closed the door on last week’s champions Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen of Denmark.

The pioneer & the innovators

Singles defending champions – Sayaka Takahashi (pictured) of Japan in the women’s and China’s Tian Houwei in the men’s – advanced to Round 2. Takahashi commanded the match from start to finish against Hong Kong’s Yip Pui Yin, 21-10, 21-14, and showed off superior stroke variation, strategy, and relentless assertiveness within rallies, an ability for which she is becoming known.

The outcome is surprising as well as unsurprising. You would think Yip, having trained with Wang Chen previously, would become accustomed to dealing with high aerial shots and sharp drops but she appeared at sea during this match. Then again, Yip Pui Yin (pictured below) is a pioneer in badminton, having imported into the women’s game traits of the men’s like jump smashing, keeping the points terse and very audibly showing how she feels about every point she has won. Takahashi, meanwhile, is one of a string of innovators who have improved on this particular style.

Takahashi is like a combination of Yip and Wang: aggressive at every opportunity and also using the height and depth of the court creatively. Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying and Akane Yamaguchi, the other innovators of Yip’s style, played out a high-octane match, each endeavouring to outpace the other and expose the empty court knowing that the other is not tall.

“I’d checked out her recent scores and she’s been doing great against top players.  I was worried coming into this match,” revealed Tai after slogging out a, 22-20, 21-15, victory against the rising teenage Japanese star.

Tian Houwei also continued his local winning streak by matching speed with Derek Wong Zi Liang of Singapore ad infinitum, thus implementing his usual game plan which simultaneously enables him to figure out, acclimatise to, and ultimately frustrate any opponent possessed of shorter patience. The Chinese prevailed today, 21-19, 21-12.

Of his status as defending champion in Sydney the unassuming and talented Tian added, “There is no particular feeling of pressure being here again because I know that my teammates have achieved so much more than I have.”

Click here for complete Wednesday results

Aaron Wong

About Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong only ever coveted badminton's coolest shot - a reverse backhand clear. He is renowned for two other things: 1) Writing tournament previews that adjust the focus between the panorama of the sport's progress, down to the microscopic level of explaining the striking characteristics of players; 2) Dozing off during men's doubles at the London Olympic Games. Contact him at: aaron @