ALL ENGLAND 2016 R16 – Koo/Tan oust World Champs, back in quarters

Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong are into the All England quarter-finals for the first time in five years, after upsetting reigning World Champions Ahsan/Setiawan. By Naomi Indartiningrum, Badzine […]

Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong are into the quarter-finals for the first time in five years, after upsetting reigning World Champions Ahsan/Setiawan.

By Naomi Indartiningrum, Badzine Correspondent live in Birmingham.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

More major upsets shook the 2016 All England on Thursday. A classic battle happened in the Barclaycard Arena between current and former Asian Games gold medallists, Hendra Setiawan / Mohammad Ahsan and Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (pictured above) respectively.

For Hendra Setiawan, the All England is by far the biggest title he has never won, while by contrast, it is one of the brightest feathers in the career cap of the Malaysian pair.  In fact, the last time 2007 champions Koo and Tan had been as far as the quarter-finals in Birmingham, they were denying Setiawan and former partner Markis Kido, back in 2011.  This time again, the Indonesians could go no further, as Koo/Tan prevailed 21-15, 15-21, 21-17.

“They played very well during the match. They’re defense is hard to break down and they played more compact than us,” said Hendra Setiawan after the loss.

“In the second game, we started to rise up and not think back of the first game,” Ahsan added. “It worked but we still made so many mistakes. In the third game, they played better than before; moreover in terms of power, they were more than strong enough.”

In the 2013 Australia Open, their only meeting since Hendra Setiawan began his partnership with Mohammad Ahsan (pictured), Koo/Tan had to admit the superiority of the soon-to-be World Champions. They lost in straight games in that quarter-final match but today in the All England, these veterans were finally able to even their head-to-head record.

“I’m so happy. We never have mindset of losing. We must win. We play our best and do our best in every match,” said Koo.  “For today, there were no tactics.  As you know, we have been playing for more than 10 years, since Tan was a teenager. It’s about mindset and preparation.

“It will give us more confidence and will boost our energy. I hope we will take the next match more easily.”

As for the upcoming Rio Olympics, both of them have big passion and hope for that event. Even though for Setiawan, Koo, and Tan, this could be their third Olympics, everybody stressed that their focus will fully for these Olympics.

“For us today’s loss is not a big deal. It does not matter. Whatever happens, our target is the Rio Olympics. We have to focus to achieve that big target,” said 2008 Olympic gold medallist Setiawan.

“The Olympics is my first and ultimate goal of my badminton career,” said Koo.

After this loss, Indonesia doesn’t have any other representative in men’s doubles. The other Indonesian pair, Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi also lost, to Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa in this second round.

While the loss by Pratama and Suwardi leaves them still over 10,000 points out of the top 8 and struggling to get in qualifying range for Rio, Koo and Tan do not have it any easier now that their team-mates Goh V. Shem and Tan Wee Kiong (pictured) also achieved an upset in Birmingham.  They won a nail-biter over 5th-seeded Chai Biao / Hong Wei to reach the quarters and will thus not be easy for their compatriots to overtake in the Rio race.

Click here for complete Thursday results

Naomi Indartiningrum

About Naomi Indartiningrum

Naomi began as a Badzine Correspondent in 2015, while still a Business Management student living in Jakarta. A badminton enthusiast since 2007, she mostly spends her spare time writing about local badminton events and also maintaining one of largest badminton twitter accounts in Indonesia.