Friday, August 25, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Unseeded Koreans Chung Eui Seok and Kim Dukyoung’s merry journey through the Men’s Doubles draw at the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 continued today, as they made their way past England’s Chris Langridge/Marcus Ellis.
The Korean Men’s Doubles pair, unfamiliar faces at the elite level, had upset No.5 seeds Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong (Malaysia) in the second round yesterday and came out with the same aggressive intent today against the Olympic bronze medallists. In a match full of lightning-quick exchanges, the Koreans came out on top, 21-16 18-21 21-15.
Their reward is a quarter-final against Indonesian duo Mohammad Ahsan/Rian Agung Saputro, who beat Denmark’s David Daugaard/Mathias Christiansen in straight games.
“It feels like a dream and we’re very happy,” Kim Dukyoung (featured image, right) said. “It is our duty to live up to the high standards of Korean Men’s Doubles.”
Local Women’s Singles hope Kirsty Gilmour had stated before the tournament that she was a far improved player over the last few months; she was true to her word as she delighted home fans by taking down sixth seed He Bingjiao 21-14 15-21 21-16.
The Scot was her attacking, jump-smashing best, and her pace unsettled He Bingjiao. The Chinese recovered in the second but Gilmour shot to a lead and kept it all through the decider. With the sizeable crowd behind her, Gilmour converted the third of her six match points and buried her face in her hands, letting the emotions take over.
“There’s no one thing to rely on, you need plans B, C, all the way to Z. There’s always a backup plan. I didn’t plan to come out fast and furious – (although) I’m known for that. It took me the second game to learn what not to do. I feel like I’ve worked on my ability to adapt. Against Saina – it’s back to square one.”
India’s Saina Nehwal came into the tournament in the shadow of her recently higher-achieving teammates like Pusarla V Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth. The Indian revealed she didn’t like it one bit; she was used to having the attention on her.
On the strength of her third round win over Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, Nehwal ensured that she wouldn’t be missing from the headlines back in India. The No.12 seed downed the No.2 seed with an assured performance, 21-19 21-15.
It was a forceful show from Nehwal, whose physically domineering game got the better of Sung for the eighth time in ten matches. The Korean’s steep half-smashes and sublime footwork helped her to a 17-13 lead in the first, but Nehwal was getting more dominant with every rally. The Indian duly caught up and shot ahead, and from that point on, there was an air of inevitability about the result. Nehwal clinched her quarter-final place with plenty to spare.
“I felt a bit of doubt with the way she played the first game, she was picking up all my shots. All her shots were sharp, the half-smashes were very steep,” said Nehwal.
“She was amazing in the first game. She doesn’t have a big hit, but her shots are very tough to take, because you have to keep lunging. I’m happy that I picked up her shots.”
Defending champion Carolina Marin eased past Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt 21-7 21-11 to set up a showdown with Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, while in the top half, it will be China’s Chen Yufei against Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon and India’s Pusarla V Sindhu against China’s Sun Yu.
Intanon expected to be troubled by Chen Xiaoxin, but the young Chinese lost the plot early and the Thai’s attack was razor-sharp. The 2013 World champion was surprised by the ease with which she had won.
“Maybe she was nervous, she’s much better than she was today,” Intanon said.
Wong Downs Shi Yuqi
Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki was a picture of sheer grit, throwing himself at everything that Shi Yuqi dished out as he made his first World Championships Men’s Singles quarter-final. The Chinese was hurt by the sheer relentlessness of Wong; the Hongkonger was combative on all fronts; his smashes were precise and his netgame was tight enough to prevent Shi from getting any leeway.
“Unbelievable!” said Wong, coming off his 21-13 15-21 21-16 victory. “I’ve been preparing for this tournament for last two months. I was just focused only on this. Physically, today’s match was better than yesterday’s (against Kanta Tsuneyama), which was much tougher.”
Wong takes on Lin Dan, who he beat back in 2011 at the Denmark Open, but hasn’t taken a game off in three matches since.
In the bottom quarter, defending champion Chen Long set up an all-Chinese quarter-final against Tian Houwei by beating India’s Ajay Jayaram 21-11 21-10.
In Women’s Doubles, second seeds Christinna Pedersen and Kamila Rytter Juhl were stretched every inch of the way by Korea’s Kim Hye Rin/Yoo Hae Won and prevailed by a tight margin, 22-20 21-19, in an hour-long battle.
Fellow-Danes Sara Thygesen/Maiken Fruergaard lost a close match to Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan.
In Mixed Doubles, Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock kept alive Europe’s hopes in the category, beating Kenta Kazuno/Ayane Kurihara (Japan) 21-15 21-16.