Tuesday, August 29, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
The TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 concluded in Glasgow on Sunday after a week of top-class badminton. While most matches were hard-fought, there were some that stood out, in terms of intensity, fluctuating fortunes, and closeness of outcome. Here is our shortlist from each of the five categories:
Wong Wing Ki, though seeded No.12, wasn’t one of the talked-about prospects in Men’s Singles. The Hongkonger though showed plenty of heart right through the event, starting with his second round victory over Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama. Wong had to play catch up through the third game, eventually levelling a 13-17 deficit. The two went neck-and-neck: Tsuneyama had three of his match points saved and Wong two, before he converted his third opportunity: 21-23 21-15 26-24. The match clocked 84 minutes!
No prizes for guessing this one. The final between Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara and India’s Pusarla V Sindhu is being hailed as the greatest Women’s Singles match ever, and for good reason. For 110 minutes, the action was riveting, as both players extended the limits of their physical and mental abilities. Incredibly, there were few unforced errors; the quality of stroke-making meant that each point had to be gained gained through sweat and toil. When victory finally came, to Okuhara, it was by the narrowest of margins – 21-19 20-22 22-20.
Mohammad Ahsan and Rian Agung Saputro (featured image) entered the event as a pair without a particularly arresting record. The attention was on their higher-ranked compatriots, but that changed after the second round, where they played top seeds Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen.
In a match that contrasted the fierce attacking skills of the Chinese against the more crafty Indonesians, it was Ahsan and Saputro who held fort under the barrage. The Indonesians absorbed all the pressure, astutely turning defence into attack with a typical mix of drives and flicks, coming away victorious 19-21 21-18 21-18.
The in-form Danish duo Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl ran into a stiff test in the quarter-finals against Japan’s Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto. The Japanese, trailing in the third game, caught up at 19. From then each pair had opportunities to take the match only to be reeled in. Three chances came and went for Tanaka/Yonemoto; three for the Danes as well. Finally, it was the superior experience and calm-headedness of Pedersen and Rytter Juhl that carried the day, as they emerged winners: 21-5 18-21 27-25 in 84 minutes.
Olympic champions Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir had unexpectedly struggled against Ireland’s Sam Magee/Chloe Magee in the third round. With China’s Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping taking a close first game in their quarter-final, it was expected to be a long haul for the Indonesians. With a 16-12 lead in the third, they appeared comfortable, but when Wang/Huang won the next five points, things started to get tense for the Indonesians. The Olympic champions however came up with the goods at the right time, with Natsir again commanding the net, and stopping the Chinese’s march: 19-21 21-15 21-18.