Photo credit: Tang Shi
When someone win a big title they automatically become the ones everybody else want to defeat. Second round of the Asian Games was close to becoming the end for the men’s double World Champions.
Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen from China claimed the gold at the World Championships on their home ground earlier this month and surely want to add another gold medal to their collection in Jakarta. They also started off fine against their opponents today, Attri Manu and Reddy B. Sumeeth from India who are ranked 28 in the world.
With a score of 21-13 in first game most spectators surely thought this was going to be won in straight games. But those who believed that obviously hadn’t taken the Indian duo into account. Second game belonged to Attri and Reddy and they forced the match into a third decisive game with 21-17.
Third game was a very tight affair and the Chinese World Champions were balancing on an early exit from the Asian Games. At 23-23 nothing was sure, but of course, if nothing is sure everything is still possible. Li and Liu won the next two points and redeemed their tickets to the quarterfinal tomorrow.
Mixed day for Chinese doubles
Things went worse for China’s other men’s double with Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan, seeded 4 at the Asian Games. They were up in a hard fight with Lee Jhe-Huei and Lee Yang from Chinese Taipei who only once before had defeated the Chinese duo.
Liu Cheng and Zhang did take first game 22-20 but the Chinese Taipei duo was the stronger ones today. With two times 21-16 Lee and Lee qualified for the quarterfinal at the expense of the Chinese.
In women’s double the scenario was the same for China; one pair won and one pair lost. Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan delivered as expected against Ashwini Ponnappa and Reddy N. Sikki from India who they defeated in straight games 21-11 24-22. The comeback duo Tang Jinhua and Zheng Yu played the second-longest match of the day as they spent 89 minutes on court today.
Their opponents were the local darlings Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu, to whom expectations are very big in Jakarta. The pair recently won a bronze medal at the World Championships and all Indonesian obviously hope for minimum bronze at the Asian Games as well.
Tang and Zheng owned first game, which they won 21-18, but the Indonesia girls fought back and claimed second game with narrow 24-22. They were dancing on the edge, you may say. In third game Polii and Rahayu got more in control and managed to keep the Chinese behind them as they won 21-16. The bronze medal is in the bag.
Indonesian hopes didn’t disappoint
Two of Indonesia’s biggest hopes for the finest metal at the Asian Games are men’s double duo Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and mixed double pair Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir. Both needed around one hour and three games to get passed their opponents today.
Gideon and Sukamuljo were close to winning in straight games against Takuto Inoue and Yuki Kaneko from Japan though. After claiming first game 21-16 they saw the Japanese stealing second game 21-19. In third game it was a little too exciting for the spectators who feared the worst, but the Minions – as Marcus and Kevin are called in Indonesia – managed to win 21-18 and qualified for the quarterfinal.
Ahmad and Natsir, who have won everything except for the Asian Games, had a more or less similar match against Hongkongers Lee Chun Hei Reginald and Chau Hoi Wah. The Hong Kong duo eliminated Olympic runners-up Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying from Malaysia yesterday. Could they do the same to the Olympic Champions?
No, they couldn’t… Ahmad and Natsir won 21-15 17-21 21-16 in a match that lasted just less than an hour and they are ready for more in the semifinal against the top seeded World Champions from China tomorrow, Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong. Could this be tomorrow’s match of the day?!