Top Seeds Progress, Kiwis In The Frame At Skycity Nz Badmint
16 April 2014
Top Seeds Progress, Kiwis In The Frame At Skycity Nz Badminton Open
The headline acts are having few issues at the SKYCITY NZ Badminton Open, with the top ranked players safely negotiating their way into tomorrow’s quarter finals at the North Shore Events Centre.
Men’s top seed Hsu Jen Hao (Chinese Taipei) was made to work hard for a win against his second Kiwi in consecutive rounds, dispatching plucky Aucklander Chance Cheng in straight games, winning 21-15, 21-14.
“I am feeling very tired and need now to rest after a hard match. This is my fourth tournament in a row so for me it is making sure I am feeling good physically, not so much my play on court. This was a tough match, my opponent was very fast and very tough today. My muscles are very sore and I will get massage now before my next game tomorrow so I am feeling okay.”
The Chinese Taipei player was not surprised by the effort of the unheralded Kiwi though, having done his homework.
“I saw Chance play yesterday and knew that his net play would be good and that he is very fast, so I was ready for long rallies today, he was a very good opponent.”
Cheng has only been back in the game for a year after taking some time out, the Shanghai born ex-pat came to New Zealand when he was 13 and was in national squads for a number of years before taking a break from the game. On the evidence of today’s effort he will soon be threatening national representation again.
Remarkably Hao will play a New Zealander for the third consecutive game, with 19 year old Dylan Soudjasa upsetting more fancied Chun Quan Chong (Malaysia) in a thriller earlier in the day, the young Kiwi prevailing 21-11, 22-20 to reach the third round, an amazing feat for player juggling University studies in his first year out of the junior ranks.
Former world number 1 Le Hyun Il (Korea) may well be the biggest threat to Hao in taking out the SKYCITY sponsored tournament. A semi-finalist at the London Olympics, Le Hyun is easing back into top tournament play and gradually climbing the rankings. While unseeded in Auckland, the class of the Korean was clearly evident as he dismantled Australian Cham Chen in straight games to book his spot in the 3rd round.
The presence of the silky left hander is a huge bonus for the tournament and a treat for fans. Graceful in movement and yet predatory on attack, Le Hyun Il ranks as one of the best players to ever play here in New Zealand and is garnering plenty of support from the expatriate Korean community in Auckland, as well as badminton aficionados at the NSEC.
Meanwhile another one of the star attractions in Kien Keat Koon (MAS) made his first appearance in the tournament and it was a successful one, the former world number one ranked Men’s Doubles player easing through to the second round of the Mixed Doubles with partner Hui Lin Ng in straight games over Joe Wu (NZL) and Chiang Pei Hsin (TPE).
“I am still trying to get a feel for the tournament, this is my first match, I think I should have this a bit more after my second match, my first round doubles.”
When quizzed about the biggest threats in the tournament, Koo was as evasive as one of his incredible drop shots.
“I don’t wish to comment about the other players so much, it is more focusing more on myself. I think I should get some good results here, I would like to win championships, I have just joined a new club in Thailand so I hope to bring them some good reputation in the world of badminton.”
It proved a good day for the Kiwis as well, with Joe Wu winning the all New Zealand round 2 Men’s Singles match with young Nicco Tagle, the 8th seed proving too experienced for the 17 year old, winning through to round 3 in straight games.
Top seeds in the Mixed Doubles Oliver and Susannah Leydon-Davis were impressive in their opening match, defeating Chun-Bong Wong and Jacinta Joe (AUS) in straight games 21-5, 21-18.
“I think they improved as the second went on and they made it a little harder for us, we were maybe not quite ready when the pressure went on initially we weren’t quite ready but it was good after that, it was a great hit out to get used to the conditions in here,” said Oliver.
And on the prospect of facing the former world number one doubles player in Kien Keat Koo (Malaysia) and his partner Hui Lin Ng is not fazing the Waikato pair, with Susannah in a relaxed frame of mind.
“I am really looking forward to it tomorrow, it is a new day and we will pull out as good a performance as we can.”
The biggest casualty for the Kiwis saw the demise of 4th seed Michelle Chan, beaten in 3 games by Sannatasah Saniru of Malaysia. After winning the opening game, Chan dropped the next two to lose a tight match in which Chan felt she was never consistent enough to win.
“I just wasn’t consistent enough, it was either really good or really bad and you can’t get away with that at this level. As soon as you give any opportunity they are going to take it at this level, there are no easy shots, no easy rallies at this level. If I had kept some consistency I would have won but I allowed her to come back into the game in the second, all credit to her for a good performance but I feel I didn’t play as well as I can.”
The highlight for the Kiwis on day two though had to be local player Soedjasa winning into the third round on the back of that upset win over Malaysia’s Chun Quan Chong, the Kiwi doing so in straight games.
“That is definitely my best win at senior level, I was playing pretty well coming up to the tournament played really well in that last game. The experience is a lot harder but I am putting more effort into my strength and speed, so I am hoping to get up to their level consistently in the future.
“I am not really nervous, I have nothing to lose against these international players who play and train ten times a week and they don’t go to school, I am having to juggle Uni and training and playing so I have nothing to lose and no time to get nervous.”
19 year old Soudjasa (Pro: sue j zar) Dylan is relishing the prospect of another big match tomorrow, when he will play the top seeded Hsu Jen Hao (TPE), it is not a match he is shying away from in any way.
“Tomorrow will definitely be difficult against the top seed but it would have been tough regardless of who I was playing. This sort of opportunity to play a top international player, we don’t get to play them that often. It underlines how important this tournament is, the organisers have done a great job to get the funding together for this, the chance these past two years to play in an international tournament at home is great.”
Play continues tonight at the North Shore Events Centre with all events in action. Tomorrow sees play commence at 10.00am with 3rd round matches played throughout the day and quarter-finals for all events played in the evening session from 5.30pm
Ticketing information, draws and results can be found at www.nzbadmintonopen.com