Sunday, May 10, 2015
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Malaysia did the unthinkable today, beating title favourites Korea in sub-group 1D at the Vivo BWF Sudirman Cup.
It was a rare victory in the mixed team format for Malaysia over powerhouses Korea, considering that it came after a season of lean pickings. The team victory was embellished by the successful return of superstar Lee Chong Wei from an eight month absence, with the former No.1 winning his Men’s Singles match and helping Malaysia fashion the unlikely win.
The upset was set up by Men’s Doubles pair Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong, who played beyond expectations to thwart world No.1 duo Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong in the opener.
The Koreans weren’t expected to have trouble against the Goh and Tan. However, the Malaysians took the fight to the Koreans with skill and verve; Tan making sprightly interceptions at the net while Goh’s fierce smashes punctured the Koreans’ famed defences. The Malaysians had first game point but Goh served into the net and Lee/Yoo pocketed the next two points.
The third game was a thriller all the way. Goh and Tan clambered back from two match points down at 18-20; they would save three more. The Malaysians finally converted their third match points to complete the memorable win: 20-22 21-14 27-25.
Korea made it 1-1 through Sung Ji Hyun in Women’s Singles; the world No.7 was too strong for Lim Yin Fun, 21-9 21-7.
Lee Chong Wei then took court for his first match since September 2014. The former No.1 appeared a trifle rusty but was still too good for Lee Dong Keun.
The Malaysian was given a warm welcome by the crowd and he proceeded to entertain them with flashes of his brilliance – fluid movement, pinpoint smashes and fine touch belying the fact that he spent months away from the game.
Korea’s Women’s Doubles came to their rescue; Chang Ye Na/Jung Kyung Eun outplaying Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei 22-20 21-9.
Korea were favourites going into the final match, as world No.8 pair Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na are 62 places above Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying. However, the Malaysians completely turned the tables, with Chan/Goh getting more dominant as the match progressed. The 23-21 21-13 win sealed the tie for the underdogs.
Team Director Morten Frost admitted he was surprised by the team’s performance.
“It was a solid show. The Men’s Doubles set it up for us. Lee Chong Wei played well too, considering that he has been out of competitive action for a while. We will not take the next tie for granted; we have a lot of respect for India.”
Denmark pulled off a surprise win over England despite being weakened by the absence of the top doubles stars. After Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock gave England the lead, beating Mads Pieler Kolding/Sara Thygesen 21-18 21-18 in the Mixed Doubles opener, Denmark fought back through Viktor Axelsen who eased past Rajiv Ouseph. Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding then made it 2-1 beating Chris Adcock/Andrew Ellis 21-17 21-17 before Line Kjaersfeldt sealed the tie for Denmark with a 21-14 21-13 victory over Fontaine Mica Chapman.
Hong Kong had little trouble in blanking Brazil 5-0 in sub-group 2B. The lone bright spot for Brazil was Alex Yuwan Tjong, who surprised Hu Yun by taking the first game. However, the Hong Kong veteran fought back to a 8-21 21-17 21-17 victory to make it 3-0 for his team.
France overcame a strong challenge from USA in their sub-group 2B encounter. After Ronan Labar/Emilie Lefel (Mixed Doubles) and Brice Leverdez (Men’s Singles) had made it 2-0 for France, Rong Schafer pulled one back for USA over Delphine Lansac (Women’s Singles). The Men’s Doubles duo of Baptiste Careme/Ronan Labar clinched the winning point for France, beating Phillip Chew/Sattawat Pongnairat 21-11 21-15.
In sub-group 4B, Sri Lanka were comfortable 4-1 winners over Seychelles. Rathnasiri Kapuru/Nimmika Thisara gave the Lankans the lead in Mixed Doubles, beating Allisen Camille/Georgie Cupidon 21-16 24-22. Mestiyage Don Dilina Gunatilleke overcame a first game loss to beat Kervin Ghislain in Men’s Singles; Lekha Handunkuttihettige made it 3-0 with a 21-8 21-2 result over Danielle Jupiter (Women’s Singles).