The World Championships jinx continued to haunt Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo as the top seeds ran aground against Korea’s Choi Solgyu and Seo Seung Jae in the second round today.
Choi and Seo showed character to bounce back from a first-game loss and a 17-19 deficit in the decider to prevail over the favourites: 16-21 21-14 23-21 in 64 minutes.
The result meant that the Minions’ medal drought at the World Championships would continue despite their dominance of the circuit over the last three years.
Gideon and Sukamuljo were well in control at the start and seemed headed for a quick win. Things turned in the second, with the Koreans patiently working their way back. Choi had an outstanding day at the frontcourt and even outdid Sukamuljo in his control at the net. For the Minions, Gideon was distinctly below par as he could not work up his usual energy from the back.
Still, the Minions did well to claw back from 12-16 in the third to 19-17, and even had match point at 20-19. The Koreans held the attack, and despite blowing one match point, converted the second when Gideon fluffed a service return.
The Indonesians were sporting in their acknowledgment of the Koreans’ superiority on the day: “I think they had a great day today, they played better than us. We made too many errors. They delayed their serves and that affected our rhythm.”
Asked about their wretched luck at World Championships, Gideon said: “It’s not about the World Championships. It’s just that today they were better than us.”
The Koreas were understandably thrilled with the win.
“I think we kept our composure very well at the end,” said Choi. “We have never played them before, but we know they are a great pair and we had to stay focused on every point. It’s a great result for us and I hope we can keep going forward at this tournament.”