Here’s a preview of how day one of the 2019 Badminton World Championships in Basel went down.
Ouseph out in the first round in men’s singles
Rajiv Ouseph, England’s most accomplished one of Europe’s best men’s singles players for a decade-and-a-half, called time on his international career after his opening-round loss at the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019. Ouseph, European champion in 2017 whose career best ranking was No.10, went down to Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie, 21-15 21-19. The England player made a fist of it despite trailing in the second game. He whittled down a six-point deficit and came to within one point at 19-20, but could not stop Christie from converting his fourth match point. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while, so I’ve had a chance to come to terms that this is my last tournament. It was a combination of things. I got a new family, that was a part of it. My body’s starting to let me know a little bit, in terms of training and all that. I also felt it was time for Toby (Penty), and with the Olympics next year, it’s a great opportunity for him.” Ouseph admitted it was difficult to walk off court after playing his last international match: “While I was playing the game I was concentrating on that, but after I finished it was a bit difficult.”
“I want to say congratulations to Rajiv Ouseph. I wish him Happy Retirement! I hope he can have a good life after his badminton career. He had a good style and it was never easy to play him.” – Jonatan Christie, after beating Rajiv Ouseph.
The morning session had no surprises in store. Two-time champion Chen Long was held up by Russia’s Vladimir Malkov in the second game, but stepped on the gas when he had to; the third seed progressed with a 21-14 21-17 score. Defending champion Kento Momota had even less trouble from Vietnam’s Pham Cao Cuong (21-9 21-10). Sixth seed Anthony Ginting, eighth seed Kenta Nishimoto and 14th seed Lee Zii Jia were among the first-round winners. Brazil’s Ygor Coelho was expected to trouble Lee Zii Jia, but the Malaysian was solid in his 21-17 21-15 victory.
Chou survives the Danish test
Second seed Chou Tien-chen was given a tougher workout by Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, who took the Chinese Taipei player to three sets. Chou eventually battled his way into round two 21-15, 17-21, 21-17. The 29-year-old star tightened his defense and displayed greater composure in the critical exchanges to edge his steely Danish rival who certainly had his chances but failed to capitalize. Ultimately, those small but key margins – for example, feathery shots that ended in the net, rather than over it – counted as Chou powered away from a narrow 14-13 lead in the decider. Reflecting on the match, the Chinese Taipei ace noted the “first round is always tough because you’re trying to get used to the wind and the shuttle. I really needed to focus but it was very difficult so I just tried to push him. The shuttle was slow…and you needed power to play”. Meanwhile, veteran Vittinghus rued his missed opportunity while acknowledging this performance mirrored his year so far.
“I’m both satisfied and frustrated. I think I played really well as I have this year in all the tournaments, except one. But obviously, it’s frustrating to keep getting very close to beating the best guys and not beating them,” the 33-year-old said, elaborating on his downfall. “My serving was terrible and Chou was more consistent and didn’t give away as many points.”
India’s top-ranked men’s singles shuttler and 7th seed Kidambi Srikanth was made to work hard for his win in the first round of BWF World Championships 2019 by unseeded Irish shuttler Nhat Nguyen in Basel on Monday. Kidambi Srikanth, who has been suffering early exits at an alarming frequency in the ongoing season, was in danger of crashing out in the first round as Nguyen overturned a 6-11 deficit to take the first game. Srikanth survived a close 2nd game to push the match into the decider which he dominated. The Indian shuttler needed a little more than an hour to beat his lower-ranked opponent 17-21, 21-16, 21-6.
Who are through to the next round in mixed doubles?
England’s Marcus Ellis/Chris Langridge overcame a potentially difficult first-round match with surprising ease, beating Chinese Taipei’s Lu Ching Yao/Yang Po Han in straight games, 21-13 21-10.
Jakub Bitman and Alzbeta Basova will terminate their partnership within the next 1,5 months. The mixed doubles stars of Czech Republic won their first match at the World Championships against a Canadian pair, and in the mixed zone after the match, they revealed that they soon will be playing their last tournament together. “This is one of our last tournaments together. We are not going for points at the moment, but we are just trying to enjoy it. Maybe it is also the last World Championships for me. Every day is tougher and tougher. I just try to enjoy”, Jakub Bitman stated. “It is quite strange knowing this going into the Worlds. I was a bit sad when we walked on court today, but maybe that is the reason why we played okay. We know that it is soon over and we will enjoy another match together”, Basova said. Basova and Bitman kicked off their partnership in 2010 when they were 21 and 16 years old, and after winning ten national titles Alzbeta Basova is now ready to consider playing with a younger mixed doubles partner, although she will also focus on women’s doubles. “In Czech Republic there is not that many players, and it is quite hard to play with partners from different countries. I spoke to Poland, because it is close to Czech Republic, but they have a lot of players who practice together”, Basova said.
Scots edge Thailand
Meanwhile, men’s doubles duo, Alexander Dunn/Adam Hall, held their nerves for a thrilling victory against Bodin Isara/Maneepong Jongjit. The Scottish pair clawed through 21-19 11-21 21-19 in an encounter that constantly saw their Thai opponents playing catch-up in a see-saw tussle from 12-12 in the third game. At 19-19, Dunn/Hall eked out the last two points to seize the honours; a net tickle by Dunn clipping the top of the tape and falling in their favour. “They were the favourites but they were more nervous and we got more opportunities and, thankfully, we took them,” said Dunn. The win put Scotland into the third round as their second-round opponents, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty of India, have withdrawn. There is the prospect that their next match could be versus Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan which would be extra special for Hall. “Hendra Setiawan is my badminton idol so any chance I get to play him would be great. So I’m hoping they get to the third round,” declared the 23-year-old.
Why a 62-year-old played at the world badminton championships
Mathew Fogarty said badminton’s European elite made fun of him for playing professionally at age 59. That was three years ago. Fogarty still competes at the sport’s highest level, taking part in the world championships that began Monday in Basel, Switzerland. Fogarty, who turns 63 on Oct. 30, is older than any U.S. Olympian in any sport since the St. Louis 1904 Games, according to the OlyMADMen. “I play because I can, and I’m a doctor, and I think sports is a really important part of people’s health and fitness,” said Fogarty, who has played competitively since age 7, whose full-time job is a psychoanalyst and who is based in the Los Angeles area. “I’ll stop badminton when I can no longer qualify. There’s still opportunity, and I love the sport. I’m going to continue to do the best I can.” He lost in the first round of mixed doubles at worlds on Monday. Fogarty and partner Isabel Zhong, a 27-year-old with an IMBD profile, saw their world championships end in 23 minutes, a 21-9, 21-10 loss to a Ukrainian pair.
Get an overview of all the matches here