Sunday, May 20, 2018
TEXT BY GAYLE ALLEYNE | BADMINTONPHOTO
Korea’s men averted potential danger in tonight’s tricky opening clash, beating Thailand 3-2 in Group B of the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2018.
Battling noisy home supporters also, the winners held strong at key junctures to withstand a spirited effort from the hosts who bounced back admirably after falling 2-0 down to almost force a decider in the fifth match of the tie at Impact Arena.
Having seen singles star Son Wan Ho and his Men’s Doubles team-mates, Chung Eui Seok/Kim Dukyoung, seize the first two points for Korea, Kantaphon Wangcharoen set about giving his compatriots reason to hope for an about-turn in fortunes. He dispatched Korea’s Men’s Singles player, Heo Kwang Hee, 21-19 21-15, to give Thailand their first point.
Then, in the second doubles match, Kittinupong Kedren and Dechapol Puavaranukroh, were two points away from levelling the tie 2-2, only to watch Kang Min Hyuk and Kim Won Ho wriggle out of a tight spot in the second game. The Korean pair held the lead throughout the third game to secure the decisive point for their team, prevailing 18-21 21-19 21-17.
“We didn’t worry about being nervous. We just said ‘Let’s see what we can do’ and we kept fighting. We played better as the match went on,” said Kang and Kim in the aftermath of Korea’s unassailable 3-1 advantage.
It proved fortunate they were able to squeeze past their Thai rivals as Korea subsequently lost the last match, with home talent Pannawit Thongnuam ousting Ha HA Young Woong, 21-16 21-19 in 40 minutes. Korea’s efforts earned them second place in the group standings behind Indonesia who had whitewashed Canada 5-0 in earlier action.
Denmark’s women also navigated possibly troublesome waters, defeating Russia 4-1 in their Uber Cup Group C encounter. Missing stellar duo Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Christinna Pedersen, the continental champions grappled with steely opponents in the first three matches, being pushed the distance but coming through to win the tie without a blemish. Mia Blichfeldt started the proceedings rolling versus Evgeniya Kosetskaya (21-12 19-21 21-14), after which Maiken Fruergaard/Sara Thygesen (featured image) squandered a 19-14 lead in their second game against Ekaterina Bolotova/Alina Davletova, before recovering for a 22-20 20-22 21-18 victory. Line Kjaersfeldt had the honour of wresting the tie – 21-15 17-21 21-6 versus Natalia Perminova.
“It’s a bit difficult in this hall. There’s a lot of drift. I didn’t expect us to win 3-0 but we handled the conditions better,” said an ecstatic Kjaersfeldt, admitting her performance was somewhat erratic.
“Now we have a chance to finish in the top two in the group. I hope we can surprise some of the top teams.”
The Danes also captured the third Women’s Singles (Natalia Koch Rohde) though dropping the second doubles as Julie Finne-Ipsen/Rikke SøBY lost to Kosetskaya and Olga Morozova (21-14 19-21 21-16).
Elsewhere, China’s Thomas Cup squad took care of business clinically, with a 5-0 rout of Australia in Group A while Chinese Taipei did likewise against Germany in Group C of the Men’s World Team Championships.