Sunday, August 14, 2016
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Chang Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying became the first Malaysian Mixed Doubles pair to make the Olympic semi-finals on a day that saw China clinch two spots.
China’s Xu Chen and Ma Jin joined compatriots Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei and Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir in the last four as three semi-finalists from London 2012 once again made the same stage. Xu/Ma play Chan/Goh while the other half will be a repeat of the TOTAL BWF World Championships semi-finals: Zhang/Zhao taking on Ahmad/Natsir.
Chan and Goh were helped by an inconsistent display from Poland’s Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Zieba, who looked far from the combative pair that had beaten seeds like Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen and Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock earlier in the tournament. The Poles were erratic all through, faltering on the first few shots and were unable to get any momentum.
“We’ve improved with every match,” said Goh, after the 21-17 21-10 result. “We’ve worked a lot on communicating better.”
Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei moved one step closer to defending their Olympic gold medal with a badminton lesson they handed to Japan’s Kenta Kazuno and Ayane Kurihara, 21-14 21-12.
The supreme assurance of the World No.1 duo was very much in evidence, with Zhang and Zhao barely making an error all match. Zhao was the engine of the combination, intercepting shots, crafting openings, and creating a brick wall of defence that the Japanese just could not breach. Kazuno and Kurihara just could not get a sequence of points going, as Zhang and Zhao out-thought them at every step and stayed well out of reach.
Xu Chen and Ma Jin followed them into the last-four, edging ahead of Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na, 21-17 21-18. The Koreans were a shade short of their best, with Kim giving too much away at the net opposite Ma Jin, who was impeccable. The Koreans had a glimpse at taking the second game at 18-17, but Kim served into the net and the Chinese needed no second invitation.
Third seeds Ahmad and Natsir blew away compatriots Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto 21-16 21-11 in 36 minutes.
Women’s Singles saw the upset of Great Britain’s Kirsty Gilmour to Bulgaria’s Linda Zetchiri in Group D.
No.11 seed Gilmour flew off to a great start against Zetchiri, only to falter later with an uneven display.
“I tend to come out very fast. She got into rhythm and caught up with my pace,” said Gilmour. “It’s the best she’s played against me. She was the better player. I couldn’t find the baseline in the beginning of the second and just couldn’t keep the shuttle in at the end! That’s something I’ve to work on.”
In other Women’s Singles matches, Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying beat Russia’s Natalia Perminova 21-12 21-9 and Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk got the better of Kate Foo Kune (Mauritius) 21-7 21-18.