ASIAN GAMES Day 8 – Men’s doubles top seeds to meet in the final

Indonesia prevented 2 Korean pairs from reach the mixed doubles final four and while Hendra Setiawan / Mohammad Ahsan did nearly the same in the men’s, meaning that they will […]

Indonesia prevented 2 Korean pairs from reach the mixed doubles final four and while Hendra Setiawan / Mohammad Ahsan did nearly the same in the men’s, meaning that they will meet rivals Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong for their 3rd final in 4 months.

By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent live in Incheon.  Photos: Don Hearn (live)

Day 8 at the 2014 Incheon began with Indonesia barring Korea from entering the last four in mixed doubles.  Notably, their top pair Tontowi Ahmad and Lilyana Natsir, defeated the defending gold medalist Shin Baek Cheol, playing with Jang Ye Na.

The former World Champions secured at least a bronze after defeating the Shin and Jang. The Indonesian pair seemed to have found back the right rhythm and look ready to threaten Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei’s supremacy in the field.  Despite losing the first game, the top Indonesian pair came back with a bang to clinch the next two games, denying the first of two Korean hopes for a mixed medal.

A few minutes later, Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto (pictured) raised up their game to defeat the recent Australian Open Superseries winners Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na (pictured top). Taking the first game with ease, the Indonesian pair slightly lost their focus in the second, with the Koreans taking the chance to come back one game all with Kim Ha Na using the whole net area to pressure the Indonesians.  That initiative was quickly stopped by Praveen and Susanto, as they immediately replied in the rubber, leaving a numb Korean team, unable to close the gap created by their opponents. The Indonesians are now set to meet Olympic and World Champs Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei for a place in the final.

“When we had the court against the wind, we felt very confident,” said Susanto after the match.  “We weren’t worried about our shots going out or anything.

“But it was different in the second game so we played very cautiously.  We worried about the wind so it wasn’t like the first game.  Plus, the Koreans seemed to gain confidence.  Before we moved to that court in the third game, the gap was already quite big.

“We tried to keep our concentration in this match and I think the Koreans had a lot of pressure because they were the home players and had their supporters here but we played with nothing to lose.”

Logic prevails in men’s doubles

Koreans had continued the domination in men’s doubles that was in evidence at last month’s World Championships, as they sent both of their pairs in the draw to the semi-finals.  Eventually, however, only one of them advanced to what ends up as a familiar-looking final.

Korea’s superstar Lee Yong Dae once again gathered the crowd to witness the twenty-six-years old player’s flawless play, matched only by that of his partner Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured).  The top seeds took only two games to leave the Malaysians settling for bronze while the home team rushes to the final and get a chance to grab a meaningful gold medal at home.

Seeing that we would not meet Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng in the quarters definitely gave us confidence to continue our route to the final and hope for a medal,” confessed Lee Yong Dae after his match.

While Lee and Yoo were celebrating their advancement, team-mates Kim Ki Jung and Kim Sa Rang pushed the second seeds and 2013 World Champions, in a tough three-game battle. Despite leading in the rubber, the Indonesians’ experience prevailed and they were able to catch up thanks to a series of hard smashes From Mohammad Ahsan and perfect net covering from Hendra Setiawan (pictured).

“I had an injury not so long ago, so I prepared for this tournament for a very long time.  Now I feel perfectly fine and ready for tomorrow’s match,” said Ahsan.

Asked about what how they feel about a meeting in the final with their main nemesis, to whom they lost in 2 Superseries finals in June, Hendra Setiawan commented, “We don’t feel any pressure.  We will just play our usual game for tomorrow and not think of it as a final.”

We can be sure, however, that the fans in Gyeyang Gymnasium will think of it as nothing less than the final it is, between the world’s two best pairs.

Click here for complete Day 8 results

About Tarek Hafi