Tuesday, May 22, 2018
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Germany had Japan in their sights but failed to pull the trigger as they went down fighting in a men’s Group C tie at the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2018 today.
Japan were in deep trouble from the second match onwards after Kenta Momota had put them ahead. Mark Lamsfuss/Marvin Emil Seidel crackled with energy against Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda, keeping the Japanese under pressure all through with sharp service returns and ceaseless attack. And when Kamura blew a kill to give the Germans the match at 21-15 13-21 21-19, Germany sensed their opportunity for the upset.
“It was an intense match,” said Seidel (featured image; right). “On Sunday we didn’t feel so good on court, we wanted to change that and we’re happy we did. Obviously there was a bit of nervousness when we missed a match point – it will happen if you want to win. Ours is a very tough group, but then you also get good matches. Any group would have been difficult. We had to make the best of the situation.”
Kai Schaeffer, ranked No.96 to Kenta Nishimoto’s No.14, was oblivious to the gulf in rankings and continued from where his compatriots had left off. The German’s speed and aggression caught Nishimoto by surprise in the first two games, before he recovered in the third, 21-18 8-21 21-8.
Jones Ralfy Jansen and Josche Zurwonne nearly made it 2-2 for Germany. Playing uninhibitedly and using their steep shots to good effect against Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe, the Germans had three match points in the second game. The Japanese dug themselves out of the hole, and completed a close win in the third, 16-21 23-21 21-18, to take Japan to safety.
“We played very well,” said Jansen. “We just made some mistakes on service returns and that was a pity. We were inspired by the first doubles, we also played a great second singles. If we’d made it 2-2, we knew we had our chances in third singles. At least we challenged Japan today, they were really struggling. It’s sad that we couldn’t bring it home.”
In Group D, defending champions Denmark continued to sail comfortably, as they crushed Russia 5-0 without the loss of a game.
Viktor Axelsen blew away Vladimir Malkov 21-14 21-3, and Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding made it 2-0 beating Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov 21-17 21-12.
Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Jan O Jorgensen also gave nothing away, finishing their assignments in under 35 minutes each.
“I was pretty relaxed and trying to get used to the conditions,” said Vittinghus. “I struggled in the beginning but coped with the conditions after the break in the first game. To come in as defending champions… it’s a great feeling. We don’t feel extra pressure, on the contrary we feel extra belief that we can do it because we already proved two years ago that it’s possible for us. We just have a strong belief that we can do it once again. We’re missing Carsten (Mogensen), but our singles is stronger this time. Our doubles has grown since Kunshan. It was the best time of my career, back then, when I watch it on video, I remember it with good feelings. It was not just the final or semi-finals, it was the entire week, and doing something historic for Danish badminton. So I want to cherish that forever, but also want to create new history this time.”
In Uber Cup Group D, China and Indonesia completed their second victories in the group to assure themselves of quarter-final places.
China had some anxious moments against Malaysia in a 4-1 result, with Soniia Cheah stretching Chen Yufei in the opening match and Goh Jin Wei making it 1-2 for Malaysia in the third match.
Still, China’s second doubles (Huang Dongping/Yu Zheng) and third singles (Gao Fangjie) weren’t in any mood to cede control, ensuring that China had no further trouble.
Indonesia too gave no quarter to France with a 5-0 result. The only positive for the French was the performance of their second doubles pair Delphine Delrue/Lea Palermo, who had their chances of winning their match against scratch pair Nitya Krishinda Maheswari/Apriyani Rahayu, but went down 16-21 21-19 21-19.