Wednesday, May 24, 2017
TEXT BY GAYLE ALLEYNE | BADMINTONPHOTO
As has so often been the case, Denmark’s tried and tested Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles warriors saw their country through perilous waters tonight to the safe harbour of the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 quarter-finals.
For the second successive night, sub-group 1D – dubbed the ‘group of death’ – provided high drama inside the Gold Coast Sports & Leisure Centre as the No.2 seeds saw their progression in the event in danger after losses in Mixed Doubles and Men’s Singles. That gave Indonesia a 2-0 advantage in a tie they needed win by at least 4-1 to have chance of ousting either Denmark or India. Knowing they had to win two of the five games, Denmark’s veterans Mathias Boe (featured image) and Carsten Mogensen produced an incredible rear-guard fight to beat Men’s Doubles boy wonders, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, and then left it up to their Women’s Doubles peers, Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, to do the rest.
It mattered not that Indonesia won the tie 3-2 – the result was enough, not only to see Denmark into the last eight, but also to ensure they topped the group and secured one of the seeded places in the knockout draw, thus avoiding the likes of China, Japan and Chinese Taipei.
They are pitted against Thailand while defending champions, China, face India. The other battles for semi-final places will feature group-stage rematches as Japan and Malaysia were drawn against each other as were Chinese Taipei and Korea.
“I think we have a good chance of winning the match against Thailand but, as you can see from today, all matches are going to be close. Most teams will have to fight for every match we play. We cannot say anything for certain,” noted Denmark’s team manager, Jens Meibom.
Malaysia’s Technical Director Morten Frost was equally cautious about any predictions after his team were drawn against Japan – to whom they lost 2-3 earlier in the last group-stage encounters – and also in China’s half of the draw.
“Japan is one of the toughest teams. We will have to see if we can reverse the result,” he noted.
Japan’s Head Coach Park Joo Bong agreed the rematch would be testing but surmised the “bottom half (of the draw) is also strong” and that the teams “are fairly even”. His Chinese Taipei counterpart, Chang Jeng Shyuang, would have preferred to face another team but resigned himself to having to beat Korea again. It is a clash which Korean coach Ji Hyun Marr assessed as “50-50”.
Meanwhile, in the evening’s epic battle, the tide seemed to be turning Indonesia’s way as Gideon and Sukamuljo grabbed two match points versus the evergreen Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen. Somehow, the experienced Danes coolly withstood their rivals – saving a third match before forcing a decider which went to the wire; the European champions levelling the scores from 10-15 down and then outlasting the young guns in a tense shoot-out that had fans riveted to the action.
Boe and Mogensen displayed nerves of steel as they lost a match point, then saved a match point and duelled with their opponents around the net for the last two vital points; Boe smashing to bring them a second match point and Gideon succumbing with a backhand into the net to seal the amazing Danish comeback: 16-21 24-22 23-21.
Indonesia’s diminutive Women’s Singles player, Fitriani Fitriani, then wrested the tie for her nation, beating Mia Blichfeldt, 24-22 15-21 14-21. Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto had won Mixed Doubles against Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen (21-12 21-13) while Anthony Ginting capitalised on Viktor Axelsen’s meltdown to snatch Men’s Singles (13-21 21-17 21-14). However, having perished 1-4 to India yesterday, today’s heroics were not enough to save Indonesia as Pedersen and Rytter Juhl conquered Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu, 21-18 13-21 21-13.
“We were under pressure after Viktor lost. It was a very tough group and I am very happy we qualified as No.1,” said a relieved Meibom.
On the adjoining court, Japan’s leading lights guided them past Malaysia in sub-group 1C with wins in Men’s Doubles (Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda), Women’s Singles (Akane Yamaguchi) and Women’s Doubles (Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi). Men’s Singles star, Lee Chong Wei and Mixed Doubles pair, Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing, were the Malaysian successes.
In sub-group 2B, USA defeated Austria, 3-2, with Jamie Subandhi triumphing in Women’s Singles and Mixed Doubles. Vietnam cemented their place atop sub-group 2A, trouncing Scotland 4-1; Do Tuan Duc starring in Mixed Doubles and Men’s Doubles.