Albeit with a few stutters, the big guns of women’s doubles revved up this evening for the business end of the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019 by advancing to the round of 16 in Basel, Switzerland.
European champions, Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva, were forced to buckle down against the challenge of their continental peers – France’s Delphine Delrue/Lea Palermo – before prevailing 21-13 18-21 21-10 in 80 minutes. It was the Bulgarian sisters’ first tournament since June and, at times, the rust showed but the Stoevas proved worthy of their No.10 seeding as they booked a place opposite Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia to fight for a quarterfinal spot.
“We’re trying to regain the form we had early in the year but it’s tough to be back after two months,” said Stefani.
“Our level dropped in the second game but, in the third game, we focused and kept fighting. These World Championships are a test to see where we are.”
Asked about their goal for the tournament, her 25-year-old sister Gabriela replied they would like to reach further than they have previously.
“For sure the quarterfinals, because every year we’ve lost in the last 16 so it would be a good result for us if we can be here on Friday.”
On the neighbouring court, China’s Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan shook off the loss of the first game and quickly took control of proceedings early in the second to dismiss Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanachai. The No.4 seeds overcame the Thai tandem 18-21 21-15 21-12.
Noting it was their first match and they will have some adjustments to make, Jia said they are optimistic they can perform better tomorrow against rising Korean pair, Kim So Yeong/Kong Hee Yong. The latter beat the 2017 world champions last month in Japan but, pointed out Chen, her partner was “not in good shape then”.
Their Chinese teammates, Du Yue/Li Yin Hui, also had to summon their fighting spirit, withstanding four game points in their opener to squash the threat of India’s Ashwini Ponnappa and Reddy N. Sikki (22-20 21-16).
Korea’s Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan also toughed out the closing stage of their first game against Amalie Magelund/Freja Ravn of Denmark to change sides in the ascendancy. The No.6 seeds accomplished their mission – 21-19 21-18 – and began thinking about their next assignment; facing Indonesia’s Della Destiara Haris/Rizki Amelia Pradipta.
Denmark will still have an interest in women’s doubles as Maiken Fruergaard and Sara Thygesen outclassed French rivals, Emilie Lefel/Anne Tran (21-12 21-18).
Meanwhile, Japan’s four-pronged assault on the title remained on track, spearheaded by reigning world champions, Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara. The top seeds dealt a harsh lesson to Selena Piek/Cheryl Seinen, crushing the Dutch duo 21-9 21-6. Japan – which has dominated women’s doubles in the past year – is also represented by No.2 seeds, Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota; No.3 seeds, Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi; and No.8 seeds, Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto.
“Sometimes that happens with me. Let’s see if it happens this time. I’m fully prepared because all the matches are tough. Anything can happen in these big tournaments. Look, Akane lost yesterday.” – Saina Nehwal (India) on her chances of springing another ‘surprise medal’ in women’s singles.
“It’s nice to have home court with the World Championships in Europe. We always go to Asia. I’ve never played her but I have seen her play since I was a little girl, so that’s going to be exciting for me; a tough match. I’m going to go in with all I have and show her that I’m ready to play.” – Mia Blichfeldt (Denmark) on playing Saina Nehwal for the first time.