Photo credit: Tang Shi
Most favorites delivered as expected on day one of the individual competitions at the Asian Games, however, we were millimeters from saying goodbye to one of the big favorites in women’s single and we did say goodbye to two bronze medalists from the World Championships in men’s double.
It is not every day we get to write about Macau and Mongolia in badminton context but that is going to change today. The men’s single category has 33 entries in the individual competition, reason for which only two were on court today in first round.
The honor belonged to Pang Fong Pui from Macau, ranked 512 in the world, and Batdavaa Munkhbat from Mongolia, ranked 560. The two had never played each other before but they got value for money in their first encounter today. The match was not long as such but they did get to play three games in the Istora Senayan arena, which seats 7,000 spectators.
After 48 minutes it was Pui from Macau who could raise his arms in joy. He won 21-15 18-21 21-14 against his Mongolian opponent and advanced into second round where Dinuka Karunaratna from Sri Lanka is waiting. He is ranked 200 spots higher than Pui and thus has the favorite role tomorrow.
Both Pang Fong Pui and Batdavaa Munkhbat joined the men’s double competition of the Asian Games as well, but both lost with their respective partners in straight games.
Only two points from a big upset in women’s single
All favorites in the women’s single category got their expected wins in first round today. However, we were very few points away from a big upset that could have sent the 3rd seeded back home. Pusarla V. Sindhu from India was up against Thi Trang Vu from Vietnam who is ranked 52 in the world. One would believe that Sindhu would not have too big problems winning the match, but as we know, sport is sometimes capricious.
Sindhu started off fine with 21-10 in a first game that clearly showed the different level of the two players. But a long series of errors from the Indian made Vu take second game 21-12 and force the match into a decider. Here Pusarla V. Sindhu was ahead most of the time and at 18-15 it would seem the victory was within reach.
But Thi Trang Vu came back to level the score at 18-18 and even forced the Indian favorite to a scary 21-21 score before the match was finished. Sindhu barely survived as she managed to close the match 23-21 on her third match point. So close for Vu who can at least be proud of pressing one of the favorites for the title into giving her everything.
Tomorrow Sindhu will face Gregoria Mariska Tunjung, the 19-year old Indonesian who was unstoppable in the team event and who also won her match easily today. Sindhu needs to step up tomorrow, otherwise it will be Indonesian victory.
Goodbye to bronze medalists
In the double categories most pairs did as expected as well, however, we did see one big upset in men’s double where two bronze medalists from the World Championships in Nanjing didn’t make it into second round.
Chen Hung Ling and Wang Chi-Lin from Chinese Taipei who had plenty of success in Nanjing less than a month ago couldn’t follow up on their bronze medal from then. Kim Won Ho and Seo Seung Jae from Korea and ranked 36 in the world proved too strong against the Chinese Taipei pair, who currently concludes top 10 of the world ranking. In the two pairs’ first ever encounter it was the Koreans who drew the longest straw after 65 minutes of play; 21-12 15-21 21-17.
Double exit for double player
There was no match that lasted longer than 39 minutes in first round of the women’s double category where the higher ranked pairs claimed all victories. Only the match of 39 minutes needed to be settled in three games; Ghazala Saddique and Saima Waqas from Pakistan won 22-20 18-21 21-15 against Neela Najeeb and Moosa Aminath Shahurunaz from the Maldives.
Wang Chi-Lin from Chinese Taipei will not look back at the individual competitions of the Asian Games 2018 with a smile. Few hours after having lost in men’s double with Chen Hung Lin he was also eliminated in mixed double with partner Lee Chia Hsin. The pair from Chinese Taipei is ranked 13 but was up against an even stronger pair today in Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai who are ranked 6.