Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir’s miserable downturn haunted them again today as they were bounced from the XIAMENAIR Australian Badminton Open 2016 in the first round.
For the second successive week the Mixed Doubles top seeds fell to Danish opponents in the MetLife BWF World Superseries. Having lost in straight
games to qualifiers, Kim Astrup and Line Kjaersfeldt last week, the Indonesian stars found that their Jakarta nightmare had followed them to Sydney this afternoon – losing 12-21 21-18 15-21 to Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Maiken Fruergaard.
In the joyous aftermath, Rasmussen admitted he was inspired by all the accolades which Astrup – coincidentally his Men’s Doubles partner – received after ousting the former World champions on their hallowed home turf in the second round of the BCA Indonesia Open.
“I was a bit jealous that he got all the glory, so when I saw that we were playing them today, I thought this was our chance,” he said.
“The Indonesians are a world-class pair and to push them to three games is great. To win is amazing.”
An equally ecstatic Fruergaard, who poached well at net, noted they regrouped after losing the second game, reverting to the tactics that earned them the opening game.
“I was lifting the shuttle too high in the second game but in the third I kept it much flatter like in the first (game) and that gave them less opportunity to attack us,” she disclosed.
Not taking any credit away from the determined Danes but the clear drop in Ahmad and Natsir’s performances since lifting the Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open title has left fans wondering what’s gone wrong. Reflecting on another poor outing, the usually stellar partners – who made a lot of simple mistakes and looked decidedly off-colour – acknowledged they are in a slump.
“We have not played well since Malaysia and we need to figure out why. We will go home and assess what’s gone wrong and prepare for the Rio Olympics,” said a dejected Ahmad.
Another Mixed Doubles pair, Chris and Gabby Adcock, avoided an early flight back to England, coming from behind to beat Korean youngsters, Choi Solgyu and Chae Yoo Jung, in a tense affair. Shaking off a slow start, the married couple raised their level but kept their calm to take the match, 11-21 21-18 22-20. The Dubai World Superseries Finals champions suffered a hiccup en route to victory, losing three match points in the decider before scraping through.
“It took a real fight to come through the second game. Then we had a massive lead in the third and took our eye off the ball but we managed to get through. We had to work hard,” admitted Chris; his wife nodding and adding that their opponents put them under pressure.
There was also an early exit for Chai Biao/Hong Wei as the No.3 Men’s Doubles seeds were defeated by Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin. The Chinese Taipei players held off a fightback to conquer the Chinese, 21-16 8-21 21-17.
Men’s Singles saw the departures of the No.6 and No.7 seeds, Tian Houwei (featured image) and Chou Tien Chen respectively. The latter was swept aside by Indonesian youngster, Anthony Ginting (21-8 21-12) while Sony Dwi Kuncoro put paid to Tian’s ambitions (21-16 21-12). By contrast, India’s Kidambi Srikanth breathed a sigh of relief to progress to the second round as did the resurgent Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam.
“I have been training well the past few weeks; a lot of endurance training. I am really happy with the way I played today. I need to boost my confidence as I look forward to the Olympics,” said Srikanth, following his 21-16 21-12 triumph over Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long.
In Women’s Singles, Srikanth’s compatriot, PV Sindhu, as well as Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara lost while World Junior champion, Goh Jin Wei, enjoyed success over a lacklustre Michelle Li – 21-18 21-10 in 33 minutes.