Irony struck when Korea and Japan both set foot on the courts this afternoon for their first tie of the week, brushing off England and Germany, who had been working hard since Sunday, and told them that they were only to be heard of again in the next Sudirman Cup season. The same tale happened again in the evening, as Malaysia, fresh from the bench, came up to host a goodbye show for Russia. India, however, was glad to be the only team in the elite group not hit by the curse of the day, despite the upset of Saina Nehwal.
By Ooi Ee Lyn. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)
Playing a team event in badminton is like playing cards where planning is essential. A power card is best kept till the end when its appearance is sure to kill the opponent and enjoy a beautiful win. However, the premise is to be able to hang on until the moment arrives when you can put it into play.
In their first tie of the week, Thailand kept their strongest men’s doubles Sudket Prapakamol / Songphon Anugritayawon on the bench and put world #125 Bodin Issara / Maneepong Jongjit to play, possibly to charge their doubles jewel, Prapakamol for the star turn in mixed doubles at the end of the day. That, perhaps, was good news for the Indians as Sanave Thomas / Rupesh Kumar was then able to bag an easy win from the young Thais in straight games of 21-13, 21-17.
From there, Saina Nehwal took over, expecting to clinch a second point for India, only until the moment she realised it wasn’t as easy as said. She bowed down, astonishingly, in 14-21, 20-22 to the world #18 Thai Ratchanok Inthanon, naming the biggest upset of the day.
Balancing on a 1-all tie, Boonsak Ponsana went up to take on India’s golden boy Kashyap Parupalli, who earned a point for India in last night’s matchup against Chinese Taipei. The Thai had a good start, winning 21-12, only to realise that his defeat in the previous meeting with the Indian was going to replay itself again. Parupalli turned the guns over and won the next two games 21-18, 21-16.
Gutta-Ponnappa bag crucial point
Thailand, losing 1-2 by then, saw Aroonkesorn / Voravichitchaikul struggling on court in the women’s doubles match, knowing they had to perform better than Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa, their Indian competitors, or Thailand would have to let go of the tie entirely. After losing 18-21 in the opening game, the Thais stood strong and grabbed the second game in 21-15. Unfortunately, the drift decided to send the evening breeze to India, ending the game 21-19 in their favour.
Finally, it was time for Sudket Prapakamol, who was rested in the men’s doubles earlier to show up in the closing game with Saralee Thoungthongkam for the mixed doubles. They settled Prajakta Sawant / Pravan Chopra 21-18, 21-7 in less than half an hour, but are unable to rewind time and change the fact that the Thais had lost 2-3 to India.
Thailand’s fate has fallen in between getting a ticket to proceed in the draw and seeing India – and Chinese Taipei – off at the entrance of the quarter-finals. The suspense remains, therefore, as they will have to wait till tomorrow evening to play Chinese Taipei before their destiny is decided.
In the other tie of the elite group this evening, Malaysia had sent their biggest guns to meet the Russian troop in their opening game. With Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying losing 19-21, 18-21 to a world ranked #23 mixed doubles pair of Alexandr Nikolaenko / Valeria Sorokina, Malaysia missed the 5-0 smooth sheet victory but was able to clinch all the other following matches and ended Russia’s cup-chasing journey with a 4-1 win.
On court 4, where Hong Kong met Ukraine in the first division 2 tie, the former got the better of Ukraine without much surprise, but there was one thing that certainly meant a lot to the Ukrainians, especially to their men’s singles warrior Valeriy Atrashchenkov. The world #87 took out Hong Kong’s top men’s singles, world #17 Hu Yun in 21-10, 7-21, 21-19, jotting down the name of the first upper-echelon player he’s ever defeated. Hong Kong won the tie 4-1.
In the tie against France, Poland’s world #6 mixed doubles pair of Robert Mateusiak / Nadiezda Zieba lived up to their ranking by thrashing Baptiste Careme / Audrey Fontaine in straight games. France’s Careme then faced his next defeat in the men’s doubles with scratch partner Matthieu Lo as they failed to stop world #53 Wojciech Szkudlarzcyk / Lukasz Moren, losing 21-17 18-21 10-21. France, in the same group as Hong Kong and Ukraine, was then treated to a 3-2 victory against Poland.