Anna Thea Madsen kept her nerve in a tense fifth match to assure Denmark’s women of a quarter-finals place at the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016.
Madsen showed great poise despite being a game down in the deciding match against Malaysia’s Ho Yen Mei, making it home 22-24 21-13 21-13 in a contest that nearly went an hour.
“I was quite fresh despite losing the first game,” Madsen said. “I could see she was a bit tired.”
The Denmark-Malaysia Group A tie, which was nearly certain to decide the second place in the group, saw Malaysia fight off a 0-2 deficit. The critical match turned out to be the opening singles. Tee Jing Yi was unexpectedly flat against Line Kjaersfeldt (featured image) and Denmark consolidated through Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl who were too good for the scratch pair Wooh Khe Wei/Amelia Alicia Anscelly.
But World Junior champion Goh Jin Wei rescued Malaysian hopes with a 21-18 21-13 verdict over Mette Poulsen. Malaysia’s gambit with doubles then paid off, as Goh Liu Ying/Vivian Hoo outplayed Maiken Fruergaard/Sara Thygesen in three games.
Malaysia’s Technical Director Morten Frost acknowledged that the first singles had been vital.
“More than the fact that Tee Jing Yi lost, we’re disappointed with the manner in which she lost,” he said. “The other matches went more or less according to what we’d expected.”
Denmark’s men had it easy in Group D against New Zealand (5-0), while Hong Kong beat India 3-2. Hong Kong also won their Uber Cup Group C tie over Bulgaria.
India, weakened without Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy, were outclassed by Hong Kong. Ajay Jayaram lasted just 31 minutes against Ng Ka Long in the opening singles; Manu Attri/Sumeeth Reddy found the pace and attack of Or Chin Chung/Tan Chun Man too hard to counter.
Sai Praneeth gave the Indians a lifeline, overcoming personal demons on the way. The Indian led Hu Yun by a game and 17-11 and then watched with dismay as his opponent gained on him. Hu had two game points but Praneeth survived, 23-21 23-21, and then revealed that he had nearly fallen prey to a deep insecurity.
“I was up 17-11 in the second game. Whenever I’m up 17-11, 18-13, I don’t have enough confidence that I can take the game easily. If I lose two points, I lose confidence. I’ve lost many matches and then it comes again in my mind, that I’ve lost from this position. I have spoken with my coach about this. I’ve lost from this position so many times, while leading 18-13, 17-11, 20-15, every time it keeps repeating. It’s good that I pulled it off from 18-20 down. I play better when the scores are equal than when I’m leading. It’s about confidence and mental thinking. I have to rectify that.”
Hong Kong though won the next doubles and with it the tie.