WORLDS 2015 R16 – Chinese pairs fall in forgotten upsets

The heartbreaking loss for the injured Ratchanok Intanon overshadowed two incredible upsets as China lost two of its top women’s doubles seeds, to Go/Yoo and Fukuman/Yonao. By Don Hearn, Badzine […]

The heartbreaking loss for the injured Ratchanok Intanon overshadowed two incredible upsets as China lost two of its top women’s doubles seeds, to Go/Yoo and Fukuman/Yonao.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Jakarta.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

By now, the images abound of the crushing highlight of Day 4 of the BWF World Badminton Championships.  The sight of the former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon (pictured below) being carried off court on a stretcher is a painful one, even as it meant the Indonesian fans would be able to keep cheering for their own Linda Weni Fanetri, who was declared the winner when Ratchanok Intanon had to retire when leading 8-5 in the third game.

The central court ordeal served to obscure some momentous upsets on the ends of the hall, though.  In fact, even while Ratchanok was being helped onto the stretcher, Korea’s Go Ah Ra and Yoo Hae Won (pictured top) were clinching their third game against Australian Open champions Ma Jin and Tang Yuanting (pictured below).

Go and Yoo dropped the first game but then evened the score and got off to a commanding lead in the decider.  The Koreans were everywhere, chasing down every shuttle and then seemed able to keep every return brushing the tape or painting the lines and the Chinese pair looked visibly frustrated.

The victory was even sweeter for the twenty-two year-old Koreans as their loss to Ma and Tang in this very stadium in June was almost the latest in a long line of losses to Chinese pairs, that goes back almost to when the two began playing together, in middle school.  Their last such loss was at the Universiade last month, where Ou Dongni and Yu Xiaohan beat the Koreans right in their hometown of Hwasun.

“Of course, making the quarter-finals of the is a great feeling too, but even better is the feeling to have finally beaten a Chinese pair,” said Yoo Hae Won.  “It’s just that ever since we were juniors, we have kept playing Chinese opponents and every time we’ve lost.  So often we’ve pushed them to three games but still we had never won until today.

“We played [Ma and Tang] at the Indonesia Open and we couldn’t even give them a match.  We were too greedy,” said Go Ah Ra.  “This time, we just agreed not to be greedy and to just try to play comfortably and that worked out well.  We also defended really well.”

“They smash well and the last time, at the Indonesia Open, our defense just wasn’t good so we just couldn’t keep the rallies going,” added Yoo.  “This time, our defensive shots were going and we were giving ourselves the time to prepare for the next shot.  As the rallies got longer, we found our opponents making mistakes.

“We have been playing together since middle school and we think that is one of our strong points.  There are other pairs have been together for a while, too, but we’ve likely been playing longer.  That means we always now when and how to rotate and never clash.

“We weren’t really thinking of winning, we were just trying to play comfortably but then at the end of the match, we were winning the third game and suddenly we got greedy and we just wanted to finish it so we rushed it and made mistakes.

“Tomorrow we play the Denmark pair.  We plan to play like we did today – a relaxed game without getting greedy.”

Go and Yoo are the only ones left of the three Korean pairs who started on Thursday but the other two were actually playing opponents who were even higher ranked.  The Japanese women’s doubles contingent involved even more surprises, however.

If you had been asked to pick one Japanese pair of the four to survive the round of 16 in Jakarta, you would have been hard-pressed to guess correctly that it would be Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao (pictured below).  Not because they aren’t a quality pair, but because they were facing second seeds and Malaysia Open champions Luo Ying and Luo Yu.

Two of their compatriots suffered upsets, including top seeds Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi, who lost to Malaysia’s Amelia Alicia Anscelly and Soong Fie Cho (pictured).  The third, Shizuka Matsuo and Mami Naito, had the difficult task of taking on Asian Games gold medallists Polii/Maheswari and were unsuccessful.

Fukuman and Yonao, too, had only beaten one Chinese pair before and they had lost twice to the Luo twins.  This one had even more drama, though, as the Japanese pair had to save a match point in the second to send it to a deciding game, which they also won only narrowly, after mounting a huge comeback from 8-14 down.

For Korea, they have just one pair left in each of the doubles disciplines.  Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured bottom) beat their compatriots Kim/Kim and must now face China’s Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan in a repeat of the final here at the Indonesian Open in 2014.

“We felt that there weren’t so many people here up until yesterday but today, with so many people in the stands, we really felt again like we were playing a tournament in Indonesia,” said Lee Yong Dae after beating Kim and Kim. “Since from tomorrow, we’re going to be playing with all of these people cheering, it really makes us want to play hard and win.

“Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan play the game as such a fast tempo that it can even be hard for us to keep up.  I think if we can control the game and keep it at our tempo, then we have a chance to beat them.”

“Zhang Nan is so good with his drives but we think if we can be ready and counter that, then we will be able to put on a good match.”

“Of course our target is to win,” said Yoo Yeon Seong.  “We know that from tomorrow, the games will definitely not be easy but if we work hard and play well, it will be a good, entertaining match.”

Click here for complete Day 4 results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @