It was like a final in the first round as Seo Seung Jae and Kang Min Hyuk took on recent Hylo Open winners Lu/Yang in Sydney.
By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Sydney. Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)
You wouldn’t have expected be a high profile men’s doubles match in the round of 32 at a World Tour 300 event especially after the late withdrawal of top Indonesian, Japanese, and Indian pairs but there really was a final in a first round.
Many of the spectators migrated over to Court 4 with great anticipation.
The Korea Open Super 500 champions Seo Seung-Jae / Kang Min-Hyuk removed Chinese Taipei’s Lu Ching Yao / Yang Po Han, who were riding a high from being runner-up at the French Super 750 and winning the Hylo Super 300 only weeks ago, in a match that ended 21-16, 21-12.
It wasn’t the match the crowd hoped for because it didn’t produce a third game, but it had the most intensity. Both pairs were very in the moment as demonstrated with each player taking their time to reclaim some calm before serving.
By the second point in proceedings the diving on court had started. Kang’s smashes were thunderous and struck at such close range a lot of the time, it was felt amazing to the audience – who were recoiling in their seats – that Lu/Yang were seemingly unfazed.
What made the difference was Seo/Kang took the gamble more often during the fantastic flat exchanges of intercepting from the mid-court and reaped the rewards. It was the kind of match nobody wanted either side to lose or finish too soon.
Su smashes your smash
In the all-Chinese Taipei affair, it wasn’t looking like a given that Tokyo Olympic gold medallists Lee Yang / Wang Chi-Lin were going to come out on top but they prevailed 22-20, 21-17 over Su Ching Heng / Ye Hong Wei.
Former world #10 Su was ferocious in the front court doing what he does best, attempting to smash down the opponent’s smash or at least return it before they had repositioned their racquets for the next shot.
Su’s brave disposition of running into the line of fire was a double-edged sword. It earned his side three consecutive points to reach the first game point first but just as quickly was taken advantage of by Lee/Wang, who snatched the next three points and the game at deuce. Lee/Wang got a few points ahead before the second game interval and didn’t let go yet didn’t extend the lead.
New Australian pairing works
Another Hylo Open champion could have been shown the door. In women’s doubles, Australia’s promising new pairing of Gronya Somerville / Wendy Chen Hsuan-Yu convincingly claimed the first game against 21-18 against the Benyapa and Nuntakarn Aimsaard who won last month in Germany.
Somerville seemed very at ease with the very different style of Chen compared to her previous partner Setyana Mapasa. Chen was comfortable returning deep into court and utilised Somerville’s mixed doubles skills to accumulate a significant portion of their points.
Today the steadiness of the Aimsaard sisters helped to win the remaining games 21-16, 21-12, but the rotational ability of the Australians bodes well for a World Tour title together if they continue playing at this level of skill and happiness.
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