20 June 2008

Article and Pix by Yves Lacroix.

The Djarum Indonesia Open’s main draw kicked off on Wednesday, and some of the seeded players had a scare but most went through for the last leg of the Super Series before the Olympics.

A last warm up. This is how the Indonesia Open could be taken as it will be the last Super Series event before the Olympic Games, and on Wednesday, some of the top flight realised that they will be needing the remaining month to prepare as things didn’t go as smoothly as expected.

Tine Rasmussen, freshly crowned Singapore Open champion, was forced to withdraw when she faced Yao Jie of the Netherlands. After a game, which she lost, the Dane felt some pain in her thigh and decided not to go on, to prevent any injury before the Olympics – too much is at stake, especially with her state of form.

The Dutch will the move on to the next round to play Maria Kristin Yulianti, and possibly Zhou Mi in the next round – the Hong Kong shuttler beat England’s Elizabeth Cann 21/17, 21/9.

But the most surprising result of the day saw Pi Hongyan of France , seeded third, save two game points against qualifier Maria Febe Kusumastuti. The latter, who fought for her life last year when she was diagnosed with cancer, resumed training only 5 months ago and came close to beating the French, who had trouble adjusting the draft in the hall.

The Indonesian had the edge after a 21/19, 15/21, and 20/18 lead in the third game, but Pi’s experience prevailed and she was able to score 4 points in a row, leaving the Indonesian frustrated : “I was too nervous when leading hand was shaking....I am very disappointed” said Maria Febe. The French will have to watch out as she now faces Saina Newhal, recent semi-finalist in Singapore.

The top two Chinese advanced into the next rounds without much difficulty as Zhu Lin and Zhang Ning didn’t drop any games against Russians Ella Diehl and Ekaternia Ananina respectively.

Kenichi Tago, hero of the last Sudirman Cup for Japan, couldn’t have hoped for a better fate in the Indonesia Open. First when Lee Chong Wei withdrew, he was upgraded in the main draw, saving extra energy for the big guns. And secondly, when he was meant to play Hafiz Hashim of Malaysia, as the young Japanese played magnificently to beat his opponent of the day 21/17, 21/14.

”Hafiz was not focused and slow in the first set. Hafiz is an attacking player and today Tago defended so well that he turned Hafiz’s attacking style into a defensive one,” analysed Park Joo Bong. Tago will now play Ng Wei of Hong Kong, with a very good chance to reach the quarter-finals..

Poland’s Wacha Przemyslaw was given a torrid time by Netherlands’ Eric Pang. The Dutch – who has a Singaporean mother and Indonesian father, was hoping to fare better in the land of his father than in his mother’s home ground. After crashing early in Singapore last week, Pang was very close to creating an upset by edging the 7th seed from Poland, but Przemyslaw eventually saved one match point in his 18-21, 24/22, 21/19 thrilling win.

Peter Gade and Bao Chunlai, looking as strong favourites on either half of the draw had a rather smooth start as the Dane had to play half a game against his friend Scott Evans from Ireland – the latter had food poisoning and withdrew at 1/11 in the first game.

Bao, seeded No 2 was efficient against the other Hashim sibling – Roslin – and took it home in straight games 21/11, 21/16. The two remaining Malaysians are KLRC’s Lee Tsueng Seng (winner of Tommy Sugiarto) and Ayob, who struggled to beat Chan Yan Kit from Hong Kong.

There was no major upset in the men’s doubles, except maybe Yonatan Dasuki and Rian Sukmawan losing to their compatriots Albert Saputra/Rizky Yanu Kresnayadi and the Danish duo Anders Kristiansen/Simon Mollyhus to local hopes Muhammad Ahsan/Bona Septano.

However, there should be some mouth watering matches to follow on Thursday evening, with top seeds Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan taking on Chan Chong Ming and Chew Choon Eng of Malaysia, in the upper half of the draw which seems stronger that the lower half after the withdrawal of Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng of China.

There were a couple of minor upsets in the women’s doubles, when the new duo of Charmaine Reid and Nicole Grether – the Canada-German partnership - beat Imogen Bankier and Suzanne Rayyapan while the Russian pair of Nina Vislova and Valeri Sorokina beat Duang Anong Aroonkesorn and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul.

The mixed doubles, however, got a lot of attention from the locals as many Indonesian teams were up. Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir, just crowned in Singapore had a tough first match against Malaysian youngsters Tan Wee Kiong and Woon Khe Wei, but eventually came on top.

Flandy Limpele and Vita Marissa were also victorious defeating Denmark’s Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen, who had troubled the Chinese Zheng Bo and Gao Ling last week, winning 21/14, 21/16.

“ Vita and I were not really focused last week, but we hope to put on a better show this week. With the home pressure, it will be a good test before the Olympics,” said Flandy.

If everything goes as planned, they will be meeting Zheng Bo and Gao Ling in the semi-final.


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