Wednesday, May 22, 2019
TEXT BY GAYLE ALLEYNE | BADMINTONPHOTO
Denmark’s badminton players restored their pride tonight with a masterful 3-2 victory over Indonesia that saw them through to the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2019 quarterfinals in Nanning, China.
Desperate to remain in contention for the trophy after losing to England on Monday, the champions of Europe rebounded in excellent fashion, sweeping aside the opposition in mixed doubles and both singles categories. Indonesia were superior in men’s and women’s doubles.
Much was riding on the last Group 1B round-robin match, with England waiting to find out whether their exciting win against the Danes two nights ago would count for anything. It was soon clear that their efforts were likely all for nought as Denmark came out firing intently. Gone was the nervy, uncertain play that characterised their defeat to England; a loss that left them with no choice but to beat the Indonesians this evening.
Mathias Christiansen and Sara Thygesen started the ball rolling, determined to wrest the opening point for their country – and that they did! They cast aside an out-of-sorts Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja, 21-17 21-11, in 48 minutes. The second point came even quicker as it took Viktor Axelsen just 44 clinical minutes to dispense with Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (21-9 21-16). It was one of Dane’s best performances in recent times.
“I haven’t played that well for a long time. I’m pretty satisfied with my performance, especially because I know how important this match is for us. I was thrilled that I could play at this level today,” assessed Axelsen.
The honour was left to the lanky Mia Blichfeldt to put the icing on the cake and the women’s singles player duly obliged in straight games, despite a late surge by Fitriani Fitriani to try and force a decider. Blichfeldt triumphed 21-13 21-19 to secure the vital third point for Denmark.
Quote of the Session
“We had to get these three points and I’m very happy we’re through to the quarterfinals now. We were the favourites against England and we were disappointed to lose. We knew we had to do better today. There was a lot of pressure on us,” said Blichfeldt, savouring her first win versus Fitriani.
“Of course, I was nervous but I told myself to keep fighting and stick to my game plan.”
Top Seeds Win
Meanwhile, having flirted with danger versus Russia, tournament favourites Japan made no mistake in their second Group 1A outing, unleashing the full weight of their artillery against Thailand.
Olympic women’s doubles champions, Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, and men’s singles world champion, Kento Momota, were among those who featured in the No.1 seeds’ 4-1 success to top the standings. The lone winner for Thailand was Pornpawee Chochuwong in women’s singles. She surprised Akane Yamaguchi, withstanding three match points at 17-20 adrift in the decider to prevail 9-21 21-14 22-20.
“I had nothing to lose. I just kept fighting. I won because of my determination and resilience. I didn’t give her any free points. I know she is a fighter so I had to be patient and give my best on every point,” said Chochuwong.
“My shuttle control and wrist work have improved and they helped me win this match.”