Monday, May 21, 2018
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Indonesia’s women beat Malaysia 3-2 in a crucial Group D tie at the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2018 today.
There was a lot at stake in the Indonesia-Malaysia tie, as they share Uber Cup Group D with China and France. With only the top two teams of the group making the quarter-finals, a loss would cost either team heavily.
Malaysia drew first blood through Soniia Cheah, who got the better of Fitriani Fitriani in an hour-long opening match, 10-21 21-17 21-14.
The tie turned engrossing after Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu levelled the deficit in Women’s Doubles, beating Goh Yea Ching/Lee Meng Yean 21-13 21-14. The tie hinged on the clash between current World Junior champion Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia and her predecessor Goh Jin Wei; the match possibly a trailer of what’s in store for the future of Women’s Singles badminton.
Tunjung looked the more relaxed and adventurous of the two, backing herself to go for the lines and taking plenty of risks, most of which paid off. On the other hand, Goh looked like she had a weight on her shoulders, and only sparkled in phases: a delectable reverse slice helping her equal at 19-all during a tense finish to the first game. Tunjung saved a game point after forcing a lift to a tight net shot, and benefitted from two errors off Goh’s racket.
The second game followed the same pattern, but even as Tunjung grew in confidence, Goh’s shoulders slumped. The Indonesian handed her team the advantage with the 22-20 21-16 result.
“I had a negative head-to-head record against her, so I tried not to think about the outcome,” said Tunjung. “Because it’s a team game, anything can happen when your opponent feels the pressure. From the start I was confident and everything fell into place. I did not think about tactics. I just felt she was rushing a bit in the first game and that was good for me.”
A crestfallen Goh conceded she was “too stiff” on court. “I made too many unforced errors. Clearly my opponent handled pressure better than I did. I’m just very disappointed with myself.”
The Women’s Doubles that followed was a dogged contest between two pairs who have found form in recent months – Indonesia’s Rizki Amelia Pradipta/Della Destiara Haris and Commonwealth Games champions Vivian Hoo/Chow Mei Kuan.
It was neck-and-neck in the first two games, but Malaysia could not sustain momentum in the third, and fell to a 24-22 20-22 21-12 defeat.
Meanwhile, India, having crashed to Canada in an earlier Group A tie, kept their hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals alive by beating Australia 4-1.
The lone point for Australia came in the first doubles, with Gronya Somerville/Renuga Veeran dominating Meghana Jakkampudi/Poorvisha S Ram 21-13 21-16 after Saina Nehwal had given the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Nehwal’s young compatriots stepped up to the plate and delivered. Vaishnavi Reddy Jakka outclassed Jennifer Tam 21-17 21-13; Sanyogita Ghorpade/Prajakta Sawant held off Louisa Ma/Ann-Louise Slee 21-19 21-11, and Anura Prabhudesai clinched the fourth point decimating Zecily Fung 21-6 21-7.
Jakka, who relocated to Thailand over two years ago to train at Ratchanok Intanon’s club, was thrilled with the experience of winning her first Uber Cup match: “I was excited and I think I did pretty well. I was nervous, but more than that, I was excited and looking forward to the match. It is great to be here and to see all these experienced players. I train in Bangkok, but this is the first time I’m coming here to Impact Arena.”
India go in as underdogs against Japan in their final group tie on Wednesday.
In Uber Cup Group C, Denmark picked up their second win beating Mauritius 5-0, while in Thomas Cup Group B, Korea proved too strong for Canada, 4-1.
The lone point for Canada came in the second doubles, when Korea’s Kang Min Hyun twisted his right ankle and retired against Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura.