Wily veteran Lee Hyun Il pulled off an impressive escape act against Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in the opening round of the CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2017 today.
Antonsen nearly had the match wrapped up at 19-15 in the third game of their Men’s Singles opener, but Lee expertly worked his way out of the crisis, and before the Dane had figured out how to regain the initiative, he was out of the match 19-21 21-10 21-19.
“I really don’t know why I lost. I can’t believe that I threw that one away, leading 19-15 and suddenly it was 19-21. It’s extremely tough,” rued Antonsen, still unable to believe that the match had slipped his grasp.
“Of course he’s very experienced, he knows where to place the shuttle at the right moments. He was solid on the big points, I started making mistakes at 19-15; he was very calm at the end. Even though I’m younger, it’s bad to lose a match like this because I had it in my hands. I stressed a bit too much, was attacking too hard on everything, and just a bit in panic… my performance was not good enough.”
Antonsen’s senior compatriot and defending champion Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus had no trouble in navigating his first round – against Indian newcomer Siril Verma, who went down without much of a fight at 21-16 21-18.
Champions of the last two World Superseries, India’s Sai Praneeth and Kidambi Srikanth, both progressed to the second round without much fuss. While Kidambi outclassed Chinese Taipei qualifier Kan Chao Yu 21-13 21-16, Praneeth overcame the loss of the opening game against Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto, eventually coasting through 10-21 21-12 21-10.
“I knew he would be tough as he’s a rally kind of player,” Praneeth said. “I couldn’t adjust to the pace initially, he was playing fast. Once I started getting my smashes in, I felt better. Sometimes when I’m leading, I lose two-three points consecutively. I’m getting better at controlling it now.
“Singapore was a big tournament to win, obviously your confidence goes high. I won Thailand immediately after that. That was the real challenge…. and beating players like this (Sugiarto) will give me confidence.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for India as HS Prannoy, semi-finalist in Indonesia, crashed out to England’s Rajiv Ouseph.
Another casualty was No.5 seed Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark), whose heel injury returned to haunt him as he retired in the third game against Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting.
Mixed Doubles defending champions Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir, fresh from their exploits on home soil in Jakarta, were shot down 21-17 21-16 by Malaysia’s Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing (featured image).
The Indonesians failed to get any sort of rhythm and were chasing the Malaysians through the 39-minute encounter.
“We didn’t have time to recover since our win at the Indonesia Open (on Sunday), as we gave our 100 percent there,” said Ahmad. “We knew what we had to do and we needed to play faster, but my body was not supporting me. Our opponents also played well today, their defence was strong, and it was not easy to get points with one or two shots.”
No.4 seeds Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen (Denmark) looked a shadow of themselves in an untypical defeat to China’s Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping. The Danes were off the boil, appearing too rusty and committing far too many errors to trouble the Chinese during the 21-19 21-15 defeat.
In Men’s Doubles, fourth seeds and Olympic silver medallists Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong were shown the door in the opening round. The Malaysians were outplayed 16-21 21-13 21-13 by Japan’s Takuto Inoue/Yuki Kaneko.
Two other Japanese pairs progressed – Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda over India’s Sumeeth Reddy/Manu Attri and Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi over Thailand’s Supak Jomkoh/Pakin Kuna-Anuvit.
China’s Zhang Nan/Liu Cheng were a trifle lucky to survive as they survived two match points against Hong Kong’s Or Chin Chung/Tang Chun Man in a 67-minute affair: 21-18 20-22 23-21.