AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2015 R16 – Artificial versus pure motivations

Boonsak Ponsana kept going with the upsets on Day 3 of the Star Australian Open Superseries, while the other two over-33 players were not as lucky. By Aaron Wong, Badzine […]

Boonsak Ponsana kept going with the upsets on Day 3 of the Star , while the other two over-33 players were not as lucky.

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

Two case studies

2013 Australian Open champion Tian Houwei took out the 4th-seeded Indian player Srikanth Kidambi (pictured) who has been the newest, fastest and therefore most exciting riser into the world’s top 10 over the past 10 months (the absolute fastest riser being Lin Dan but he isn’t new to the top 10).  Both men played as though it was going to be the end of the world with the outcome being 18-21, 21-17, 21-13 to China.

As an observer, it was a nice change to see China’s Tian compete like he had something to prove rather than dish out his usual flair-free, high-quality strokes and expressionless demeanour.  The added dimension of forcefulness was one way of illustrating that he can differentiate himself from the latter ten of the top 20, that he knows how to take risks and is intelligent at choosing which are the right ones.

From a humanity angle, for both shuttlers, it was a joyless pushing oneself beyond the extreme performance, quite likely driven by the artificial goal that is the Olympic qualifying period.   It is entertaining temporarily for the spectators but can’t be good for their bodies.

Just happy and focused on problem solving

Korea’s Lee Hyun Il (pictured) playing Jan O Jorgensen was a case study of an alternative disposition.  Lee, the oldest player in the singles field at 35 years of age, exhibited constant calm and studied calibration upon re-calibration of his shots and his assessment of the opponent no matter whether ahead or behind in the score.  The side of the court Lee started on helped him establish his characteristic solid best and Jorgensen initially had problems with Lee’s high quality returns weaved in with patience born of deep self-assuredness.

The Korean’s technical brilliance was noticeable in his repeatedly choosing to thread winning smashes down the line on side that Jorgensen was guarding which gave little margin for error.  The first game happened to go the Dane’s way at deuce and Lee never fully adapted to the other side, which still didn’t disturb his continued re-calibration.  The iconoclastic Korean lost today, 20-22, 10-21, but was playing like there will be future chances against Jorgensen to genuinely look forward to and in general no reason to stop.  Realistically, this is not something top 20 players with state-funded or endorsed careers can do – competing for pure reasons alone.

Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana (pictured top) confessed to Badzine he is aiming to compete at his fifth Olympic Games and the fortunate 17-21, 22-20, 21-15 win over Takuma Ueda of Japan surely helps his campaign which involves either cutting the queue ahead of his compatriot Saensomboonsuk or cutting his current world ranking of #32 by half.

China’s world #1 Chen Long put an end to consecutive defeats by Hu Yun (pictured) . All in their thirties (and older than Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei), the three elder statesman Hu Yun, Boonsak Ponsana and Lee Hyun Il – very much respected and still threats to the field – approached their opponents, matches, and defeats like there was nothing new under sun.

“No more increasing of my skill level is going to happen.  I maintain a good attitude and fitness and the rest will look after itself,” observed Hu Yun this week with Ponsana echoing the latter aspect.

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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 @