Big Guns Prevail – Day 1 (Session 2): TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017

Sunday, May 21, 2017
TEXT BY GAYLE ALLEYNE | BADMINTONPHOTO

Japan and Korea overcame minor wobbles as both earned 4-1 victories in the evening session of the first day of the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 in Gold Coast.

While the Koreans regrouped from losing the opening Men’s Doubles match versus Russia in sub-group 1B, Japan faltered in Men’s Singles after gaining a 2-0 lead against Germany. Marc Zwiebler beat Kenta Nishimoto, 21-8 21-18, in the sub-group 1C clash but Rio 2016 gold medallists, Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, saw Japan to safety in their Women’s Doubles match, easily ousting Linda Efler/Lara Kaepplein, 21-11 21-6.

“We were confident that if we played to our usual standard we would win,” said the recently-crowned Asian champions and world No.1 pair.

Their success followed triumphs in Men’s Doubles and Women’s Singles, thanks to Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda and Nozomi Okuhara respectively. The latter was in complete command against Yvonne Li, 21-10 21-5, while her male team-mates withstood a late flourish as Mark Lamsfuss/Marvin Seidel fought from 14-19 down to 18-19 in the second game. However, there was to be no great comeback by Germany as the Japanese men prevailed 21-12 21-19. Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich prolonged the last rites, taking Kenta Kazuno and Ayane Kurihara the distance before Japan’s top Mixed Doubles combination came through 21-17 13-21 21-16 in 59 minutes in the last clash of the tie.
“Men’s Singles was our weak point but we knew that if we want to reach quarter-finals we must beat Germany and we did that. It’s okay for the opening match but now we have Malaysia and we expect that will be tougher,” said Japan’s Head Coach, Park Joo Bong.

Meanwhile, former Women’s Doubles duo, Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na, reunited successfully to see Korea home versus Russia. They conquered Ekaterina Bolotova and Alina Davletova, 21-7 21-17, to secure an unassailable advantage. Korea also took Women’s Singles (Sung Ji Hyun), Men’s Singles (Jeon Hyeok Jin) and Mixed Doubles (Choi Solgyu/Chae Yoo Jung) to claim a convincing result.

The tie started on the wrong note for the Koreans though as Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov wrested the first point for Russia. The experienced Men’s Doubles tandem fought past Kim Won Ho/Seo Seung Jae, 21-18 21-18, but acknowledged it would be tough for their team to win overall. So it proved as Korea coasted the rest of the way without dropping another game.

“We previously played together so it’s not strange for us to be partners,” said Jung after she and Kim won the decisive point.

“It’s the coaches’ decision and we may play together again in this tournament.”

Elsewhere, Sri Lanka made light work of Fiji, seizing their sub-group 3B tie, 5-0. Dinuka Karunaratna and Niluka Karunaratne featured prominently, partnering in Men’s Doubles to beat Ahmad Ali and Low Soon Seng (21-5 21-8). Karunaratna also prevailed in Men’s Singles while Karunaratne won Mixed Doubles with Renu Chandrika Hettiarachchige.

“We have a good team and this wasn’t hard for us. We think we can win Group 3,” said Karunaratne following the rout.

Slovakia also won the other sub-group 3B clash 5-0 against Tahiti with Matej Hlinican, Katarina Vargova, Milan Dratva and Martina Repiska combining to get the job done for their country.

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