World Juniors: A Marathon, and an Upset

World Juniors: A Marathon, and an Upset
Top seed Alex Lanier was upset in the quarterfinals.

Ninety-one minutes of an engrossing quarterfinal later, Sankar Muthusamy was ready for more. This was business as usual for the left-handed Indian, who revels in the long game.

And so, after he’d taken Hu Zhe An through slow punishing routines of precise deep clears and net-hugging drops to dent his Chinese opponent’s big-hitting game, Muthusamy declared that the marathon match had taken little away; he’d be in shape for the semifinal against another exciting left-hander, Panitchaphon Teeraratsakul.

“It was quite tough,” said the junior world No.4, who’d started out quick and attacking, but fell back on his natural rallying style once his opponent started hustling him.  “In the second game I was not in a good patch initially, so I slowed it down in the second since he was getting tired. Towards the middle of the third game his tiredness started showing and that was a boost for me. I’m fine for tomorrow’s match. I’m used to training for such long matches as I’m a defensive player, but I’ve also been trying to attack more.”

Sankar Muthusamy’s defensive game stood up well to the test.

The top half of the draw saw an upset as world No.1 Alex Lanier, admittedly feeling the pressure of being the favourite, fell to Chinese Taipei’s Kuo Kuan Lin, 14-21 21-19 21-17.

“Of course it’s disappointing,” said the Frenchman. “Today it was really hard; my opponent played well, and I didn’t find my own game and I couldn’t control him. I feel I played quite bad, and he was better.

“I think I can be better. During this tournament I said it was hard for me to control the stress, to play my game, and I didn’t find it, so it was normal that I lost. It was the pressure, and I’m not playing normal, so it’s disappointing to lose.”

While Thailand’s Panitchaphon Teeraratsakul showcased his prowess in the men’s singles quarterfinals with a straight-games defeat of China’s Pan Yin Long, his compatriot in women’s singles, ‘Pink’ Pitchamon Opatniputh, couldn’t get her game together in a defeat to Japan’s Tomoka Miyazaki.

The top half of the women’s singles draw will be an all-Japanese affair, with Miyazaki facing Sorano Yoshikawa, while in the bottom half, Indonesia’s Ester Nurumi Tri Wardoyo takes on China’s Yuan An Qi.

Doubles Matchups

Shen Xuan Yao and Li Qian of China celebrate their narrow victory.

♦ China assured themselves of the mixed doubles gold, as they claimed all semifinal places. Shen Xuan Yao/Li Qian survived a close call, against Japan’s Daigo Tanioka/Maya Taguchi, but the others had relatively comfortable passage into the semifinals.

♦ Men’s doubles will see four pairs from four nations contest the semifinals. Korea’s Cho Song Hyun/Park Beom Soo face Indonesia’s Muh Putra Erwiansyah/Patra Harapan Rindorindo, while the other semifinal features China’s Xu Hua Yu/Zhu Yi Jun against Thailand’s Apiluk Gaterahong/Witchaya Jintamuttha.

♦ China also have a shot at the women’s doubles title, with Liu Sheng Shu/Wang Ting Ge taking on Japan’s Kokona Ishikawa/Riko Kiyose. Top seeds Meilysa Trias Puspita Sari/Rachel Allessya Rose of Indonesia will be up against No.15 seeds Rui Kiyama/Kanano Muroya in the top half of the draw.