Wednesday, August 21, 2019
TEXT BY GEETHANJALI LAKSHMAYYA | ALAN SPINK
Women’s singles SU5 World Champion Ayako Suzuki of Japan said that she refuses to go down to a younger athlete in her quest to retain her title at the TOTAL BWF World Para-Badminton Championships 2019 in Basel, Switzerland.
Citing age as just a number, the 31-year-old Japanese took out China’s Li Tongtong 21-19 19-21 21-9 to win her first match of the tournament.
Although the first game went her way, and Suzuki started the second rather confidently taking a 9-1 lead, she seemed caught out by Li’s sudden aggression. Li then levelled at 14-14, held Suzuki point for point and won 21-19.
Suzuki’s superior skills showed in the final game as she took control and Li fell 6-21.
“When I lost the second game, I may have been a bit unsure but I told myself that I will not lose and that’s when I pushed to win the third,” said Suzuki.
Suzuki’s main contenders, Yang Qiuxia of China and Cathrine Rosengren of Denmark, both have scores to settle with Suzuki. “I’m not worried. I will play my best and even though they are younger I have more experience and I will rely on that to win.”
Yang will be looking to avenge her defeat at the World Championships two years ago while Rosengren has vowed that she is out to take Suzuki down.
“Today was not a good day for me because I did not feel comfortable playing here but I think it’s just usual for the first day of any competition. But I’ve had two months of good preparation for this tournament and I’m looking forward to playing some good matches against Yang and Suzuki,” said Rosengren after she won 21-11 21-14 against Portugal’s Beatriz Monteiro.
Fourth Time Lucky?
In the women’s singles Short Stature (SS6) category, reigning World Champion Rachel Choong of England had a cautious start to the tournament in her win against Jayci Simon of USA, 21-11 21-7.
“Maybe it was first match nerves but I was a bit cautious and it took me some time to get comfortable with the environment but by the second game I was fine,” said Choong.
She praised her young American opponent: “She’s a cracking player and maybe when the SS6 category is included in the 2024 Paralympics, she’ll be the one to watch.”
Choong comes to Basel as the three-time SS6 World Champion but this time round she was challenged by Peru’s Carmen Giuliana Poveda even before the event started.
“Poveda has an aggressive style of play. She likes a flat game so it will be fast. She also tends to be very vocal,” said Choong for whom the next immediate focus will be on the doubles matches on Day 2.
The women’s doubles WH1-2 match between Swiss pair Cynthia Mathez/Karin Suter-Erath and Germany’s Elka Rongen/Valeska Knoblauch clocked in at 113 minutes, the longest match of the evening. The intense battle ended with victory for the local stars, 21-13 14-21 21-13.
Also in the women’s doubles WH1-2, top seeds from Japan Sarina Satomi/Yuma Yamazaki took out Russia’s Liusia Ignatenko/Irina Kuzmenko 21-4 21-5.
Women’s singles SL4 top seed Leani Ratri Oktila defeated Olivia Meier of Canada 21-13 21-7.
The top two seeds for the women’s singles SL3 category from India, Parul Dalsukhbhai Parma and Manasi Girishchandra Joshi both overcame their opponents in their group matches. Parma defeated Brazil’s Abinaecia Maria Da Silva 21-1- 21-8 while Joshi beat Catherin Naudin of France 21-5 21-3.
“Yes, I want to win against Rachel and be the World Champion. I’ve beaten her once and lost against her once so maybe this third time I’ll be lucky and win. Today, the first day of matches, I was nervous and full of emotions. It’s been physically hard because the last few months I’ve been training a lot but this World Championships is something I’ve been waiting for all my life so I’m happy to be here and I want to win.” – Carmen Giuliana Poveda, on achieving her goals.