Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Text by Dev Sukumar | BADMINTONPHOTO
France clinched a spot in the quarter-finals of the Thomas Cup at the Li-Ning BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2014 today.
China outclassed Chinese Taipei in the other Group D tie. India topped Uber Cup Group Y with an unexpected rout of Thailand while Hong Kong China dropped a match in an otherwise one-sided result over Canada.
France stole the show in the final session, displaying the same fighting qualities that had served them well in their upset of Chinese Taipei yesterday.
They suffered a setback first up when Brice Leverdez, hero of their win over Chinese Taipei, could not extend Vladimir Ivanov in the opening singles. However, Lucas Corvee made it level pegging for the French by getting the better of Vladimir Malkov. Baptiste Careme/Bastian Kersaudy (above) once again delivered for France, recovering from a game down to beat Anatoliy Yartsev/Rodion Kargaev.
Thomas Rouxel had won a draining hour-long match against Chinese Taipei, but the young Frenchman showed no signs of fatigue as he took the court against Anton Ivanov. Rouxel maintained the attacking pressure right into the closing stages until Ivanov finally faltered.
“I’d played a long match yesterday, but we were excited to try and qualify. There was pressure, but I saw my friends win two points and I had to do my job. I did it quite well. We have to play well in the quarterfinals. We have to fight for the medal now,” said Rouxel.
Even India’s ardent fans would not have anticipated the ease with which the home team dispatched Thailand. Saina Nehwal took her time to warm up against World champion Ratchanok Intanon, but as the match progressed the Indian showed glimpses of the form that had taken her to her best ranking of No.2. An erratic Intanon could do little to stop Nehwal’s attacking flow as she fell 22-20 21-14.
PV Sindhu (featured image) was just as impressive against Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (21-19 21-14) and the Indians clinched the tie in the next match through Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta who were all over Sapsiree Taerattanachai/Savitree Amitrapai, 21-16 21-13.
Thailand earned consolation victories in the next two matches to give the score some respectability at 2-3.
“We enjoy playing team events. The atmosphere makes you feel good on court. We were quite comfortable today,” said Jwala Gutta, who had won the Commonwealth Games gold medal with Ponnappa at this venue.
* Canada’s Rachael Honderich (above) grabbed the solitary point for Canada in the second singles with a creditable victory over Hong Kong China’s Cheung Ying Mei. The Canadian led all the way in the third game to close out the match: 21-8 13-21 21-18. However, Canada lost the next three matches to finish bottom of the group behind India, Thailand and Hong Kong China.
* China’s men had a couple of hiccups against Chinese Taipei. Chai Biao and Hong Wei were taken to three games by Tsai Chia Hsin/Lee Sheng Mu. Olympic and World champion Lin Dan (right) lost the first game to Lin Yu Hsien but he had plenty in reserve to emerge victorious, 19-21 21-13 21-14.
* After his win, Lin Dan said: “I couldn’t play my best in my first game. It was a good test for me as there will be tougher opponents coming up. I just want to focus on this week and play well. I want to finish top eight by end of this year. I’m happy that in this place (Delhi), people are passionate about badminton and come to cheer for me. I really appreciate that.”
For today’s results, click here.