All England 2017: A look at women’s singles

Less than two weeks remain until the 107th YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships get underway, and excitement has reached fever pitch after the draw was announced on Valentine’s Day.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be previewing each and every event ahead of the first Superseries of the year kicking off.

Next up, it’s the women’s singles, and here are some of the key first round clashes you can look forward to.

Title defence

In what will be her first appearance on court this season, reigning champion Nozomi Okuhara kicks off her campaign in arguably the tie of the round, facing tough opposition in the form of eighth seed Saina Nehwal as she looks to retain the trophy.

All England 2016

The Japanese shuttler has faced her Indian opponent on six previous occasions, winning only once at the World Superseries Finals in 2015.

But with a YONEX All England title already under her belt, Okuhara will be brimming with confidence as she returns to familiar territory in Birmingham.

Progress past Nehwal and reach the quarter-finals, and a possible clash with third seed Sung Ji Hyun lies in wait, a player against whom she has fared well in previous ties.

Juniors reunite

Should Nehwal triumph over Okuhara, there could be an all-Indian tie on the cards in the semi-finals, with fellow superstar PV Sindhu mounting her title challenge against Mette Poulsen in the first round.

PVSindhu

Sixth seed Sindhu has faced her Danish opposition just once before, coming way back in 2010 at the World Junior Championships with Poulsen the victor on that occasion.

Times have certainly changed since then, with Sindhu now an Olympic silver medallist and ranked fifth in the world, but having never progressed past the second round at the YONEX All England, she has made no secret of her desire to lift the trophy come March 12.

Reach the quarter-final stage however, and she faces a tough hurdle in her path to the silverware in the form of top seed Tai Tzu Ying, before possibly facing her compatriot in the last four.

European battle

Two-time Olympic champion Carolina Marin clinched her first YONEX All England victory back in 2015, and since then, has gone on to add Olympic, World, European  and a whole host of Superseries crowns to her collection.

All England 2016

First up for the second seed Spaniard is fellow European Line Kjaersfeldt, a player she has defeated in all five of their previous meetings on court.

Make it a sixth victory and Marin could face young Chinese star He Bingjiao in the second round, before an all-seeded tie with Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in the last eight.

Marin hasn’t won a Superseries title since 2015, but after reaching the semi-final stage in Birmingham last year, she will be hoping 2017 is the year she gets back to winning ways, starting at the Barclaycard Arena.

Elsewhere on court

A YONEX All England title has so far evaded top seed Tai Tzu Ying, who faces Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol in the first round.

The Taiwanese shuttler has prevailed on all five occasions these two have met previously, while Jindapol fell in the first round in Birmingham last year against eventual champion Okuhara.

First up for third seed Sung Ji Hyun is Indonesia’s Fitriani Fitriani, a player she has never faced on the international circuit, while seventh seed Akane Yamaguchi takes on Xiaoyu Liang in the opening round.

Welsh Open 2017: Stuart Bingham beats Judd Trump 9-8 in final

Stuart Bingham held his nerve in a tense final frame to beat Judd Trump 9-8 and win his first Welsh Open title.

The Englishman, 40, took the last two frames, sealing victory with a break of 55 to claim his first ranking title since the 2015 World Championship.

Bingham had led 4-0 in the early stages and came through a scrappy final session that saw a highest break of 63.

“Unbelievable,” said the world number two. “To get my hands on another trophy means everything.”

Compatriot Trump, 27, cut the early deficit to 5-3 by taking the last frame of the afternoon session and moved 7-6 and 8-7 ahead in the evening.

However, Bingham got back on level terms and, after Trump missed an early opportunity in the decider, it was the former world champion who prevailed with a clearance.

“I honestly felt that Judd outclassed me from the word go,” said Bingham. “The first two frames were massive but it was only from his mistake that I cleared up and won.

“I’ve been knocking on the door since October, playing pretty well. I thought it wasn’t going to happen here and hats off to Judd, from 4-0 down a lot of people would have crumbled and given up.”

Trump said: “It was tough. I missed a few chances early on. I kind of threw it away in the first four frames.

“I missed too many easy balls and even tonight when I was getting back into it, I missed another easy ball. On the whole I did well to get back into it, it was just the odd shot here and there that cost me.”

Britain’s Amir Khan in negotiations with Manny Pacquiao

Britain’s Amir Khan is in talks with Manny Pacquiao to be the WBO world welterweight champion’s next title challenger, both boxers have said.

Pacquiao’s Twitter followers recently voted Khan, 30, as the opponent they would like to see him fight next.

Khan beat fellow Briton Kell Brook, Australia’s Jeff Horn and American Terence Crawford with 48% of the vote.

He said on Twitter: “Currently negotiating with Manny #teampacquiao. Coming soon. Watch this space!”

Six-weight world champion Pacquaio, who said his next fight will be in the United Arab Emirates, added: “My team and I are in negotiations with Amir Khan for our next fight. Further announcement coming soon.”

The 38-year-old Filipino retired in April, but returned to claim the belt by beating Jessie Vargas in November.

 

JAPAN OUTCLASS KOREA FOR TITLE – ROBOT BADMINTON ASIA MIXED TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS 2017: FINALS

Japan emerged victorious at the ROBOT Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships 2017 – Asia’s first mixed team event – with an easier-than-expected 3-0 win over Korea in the final yesterday in Ho Chih Minh City.

Takeshi Kamura & Keigo Sonoda4

Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda’s run of form continued into the final. The Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open champions won their fourth match of the tournament and set the Japanese on the path to victory. Kamura and Sonoda shut out Yoo Yeon Seong/Kim Gi Jung 21-15 21-16 in 43 minutes in their Men’s Doubles opener.

The critical Women’s Singles between Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi and Sung Ji Hyun was expected to be tightly fought, and it was. The two players were neck-and-neck all the way, but Yamaguchi managed to squeeze ahead at the very end of both games, giving Japan a 2-0 lead in 54 minutes: 22-20 23-21.

Akane Yamaguchi_Sung Ji Hyun

The Men’s Singles was between two upcoming players. Kenta Nishimoto (featured image) had performed impressively all week, winning three matches and losing one by a narrow margin. On Sunday he was once again sharp all the way through, barely giving Jeon Hyeok Jin a glimpse as he led from start to finish: 21-13 21-16.

Source: bwfbadminton

DENMARK NAIL 16TH CROWN – 2017 EUROPEAN MIXED TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS: FINALS

Denmark cruised to their 16th title at the European Mixed Team Championships with a 3-0 rout of Russia in Lubin, Poland, yesterday.

Minus their talisman Vladimir Ivanov, who had been instrumental in taking them to the final, Russia were outclassed. Ivan Sozonov teamed up with Ekaterina Bolotova for the opening Mixed Doubles and the pair started strongly against Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen. The Danes had to save a game point before taking a close first game; the second was much easier and they sealed the match 24-22 21-10.

Anders Antonsen took on Denmark’s responsibilities in the Men’s Singles and didn’t let them down. The young Dane needed just 28 minutes to blow past Anatoliy Yartsev 21-7 21-8.

Line Kjaersfeldt had things under control against Evgeniya Kosetskaya from midway in the first game of her Women’s Singles encounter. Kosetskaya fought back from 10-15 and came within a point of levelling the deficit, but Kjaersfeldt stepped on the gas and left her trailing. The second game was a nearly similar story, with the Dane powering ahead from 11-10. The 21-15 21-15 result helped Denmark defend their title and claim their 16th title from 24 campaigns. After finishing runners-up to England in the first two editions in 1972 and 1974, Denmark won their first title in 1976. The Danes have been in the finals 23 times; the only time they have failed to make the final was in 1982, when they finished third behind champions England and runners-up Sweden.

Line Kjaersfeldt

Source: bwfbadminton

Vodafone PBL 2017: Badminton at its best

The Vodafone PBL Season 2 ended with a rousing note, thanks to the thrilling finale between the Chennai Smashers and Mumbai Rockets which ended 4-3 in favour of the former. The 2017 season turned out exactly what it promised to be, unpredictable, exciting and keenly-fought!

Along with the stars on court, there was an exponential rise in star power off it too. Bengaluru TopGuns were renamed to Bengaluru Blasters this year because of a change in the ownership with the likes of cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, Telugu cinema stars Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna and Allu Arvind coming on board along with Nimmagadda Prasad.

Season 2 was well-received by the people as well, who made their presence felt in strong numbers at each of the venues, voicing their support for their favourite players and teams. Going into the tournament, there was a lot of buzz created by the ‘Baddie Brigade’ via social media. Here, two lucky fans were chosen to meet their favourite player from numerous participants who were part of the ‘Saina Brigade’ and ‘Sindhu Brigade’, giving them a chance of a lifetime to meet their real-life heroes.

On the court, we look at the important factors that contributed to making the tournament a success this year.

New 11-point format

With five matches in each tie, each game was reduced to 11 points from 15 in the previous edition to make for a fast-paced affair. This meant that there was little time for players to bide time and get into the groove eventually. They had to get going right from the beginning or else the match could be over by the time one realises the gravity of the situation. It was new for every player and each one of them had to adjust to it. Add the ‘Trump’ matches to the mix where each team gets to choose one match in the tie which will give them double points for a win and a negative point for losing it, what we got was teams fight hard for each and every point with no clear favourite to choose from.

The Delhi Acers are an example of that, as the defending champs boasted of two men’s singles players who are ranked in the top 4 in the world in Jan O Jorgensen (number 2) and Son Wan Ho (number 4) along with the 2016 All England Championship-winning men’s doubles duo of Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov, which made them arguably the strongest team on paper only to finish last in the group stages much to everyone’s surprise.

Prannoy leads Indian men’s charge

It was not just about Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu hogging the headlines, there were a few other Indians too, who made their presence felt in the tournament. Chief among those has undoubtedly been Mumbai Rockets’ HS Prannoy. He and Jayaram being the two main singles players for the Rockets had prompted many to write-off the 2016 runner-up’s chances. Prannoy won all seven matches he played, becoming the only undefeated singles player in the 2017 edition. He showed tremendous grit and character along with a solid all-round game, with his tough win against Parupalli Kashyap in the final being the standout.

Jayaram too, played his part as he won two Trump matches against the likes of Jorgensen, Viktor Axelsen and even defeated Kidambi Srikanth before falling short in a tense decider against Tanongsak S in the final. Singles-playing siblings Sourabh and Sameer Verma also gave a good account of themselves with 20-year-old former junior world number 1 Aditya Joshi giving Kashyap an almighty scare in the only game he played.

The emergence of Satwik Sai Raj

In doubles, the biggest impact was from Hyderabad Hunters’ 17-year-old Satwik Sai Raj who formed a more-than-formidable pairing with Chau Hoi Wah as his court coverage and booming smashes belied his tender years. Satwik caught the attention when he and Wah recorded a stunning win against the experienced Nadiezda Zieba and the brilliant former doubles number 1 Lee Yong Dae. The explosive Satwik is surely one to watch out for in the future.

Sindhu reigns supreme

With Nehwal still battling back to her old self, it was Sindhu who impressed more as she won all but one of her matches to be the driving force for the Chennai Smashers. Coming back from an injury, Nehwal used the tournament to regain her touch, with the highlight for her being the win over world number 3 Sung Ji-Hyun. Little-known Tanvi Lad faced a trial by fire as she squared off against the likes of Carolina Marin, Sindhu and Sung Ji-Hyun in the three matches she played. Despite losing all three, she exhibited great spunk and didn’t give up without a fight against her illustrious opponents. Sikki Reddy also impressed in her mixed doubles outings partnering the experienced Ko Sung-Hyun. Also, worth mentioning is doubles specialist Ashwini Ponnappa’s first singles match in six years against none other than Marin, whom she took to the limit and almost pulled off the unthinkable.

Foreign flavour

Foreign players were crucial to their team’s fortunes with champions Chennai Smashers being the prime beneficiary. The husband-wife pair of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock along with the gigantic Dane, Mads Pieler Kolding proved vital to their team’s fortunes throughout. Kolding, in fact, even set a world record for the fastest smash with a 426 km/hr blast in the group stages. Tanongsak and Tommy Sugiarto also delivered when it mattered with the former’s terrific comeback win in the final, delivering the PBL crown to the Smashers. Marin and Sung Ji-Hyun were excellent for Hyderabad Hunters and Mumbai Rockets respectively which meant that the women’s singles always made for an exciting watch. For the Hunters, the two Tans – Tan Wee Kiong and Tan Boon Heong were formidable in doubles along with Chau Hoi Wah and Rajiv Ouseph in mixed doubles and men’s singles respectively. The Rockets too, had Dae, Zieba and Nipithphon P to thank for their brilliant run to a second successive final despite being the underdogs. Other notable performers include Awadhe Warriors’ Goh V Shem, Markis Kido, Savitree Amitrapai, Bodin Issara and Vincent Wong Ki; the super Korean doubles duo of Yoo Yeon Seong and Ko Sung-Hyun along with the pint-sized Cheung Ngan Yi for the Bengaluru Blasters. The Delhi Acers’ foreign contingent impressed in bursts but their consistency was found wanting.

It can be safely said that the Premier Badminton League has lived-up to its promise of delivering high-class badminton to the fans, making the sport more engrossing and entertaining for everyone involved with its action-packed format.

Smashers ‘Trump’ Warriors to enter final

Chennai Smashers booked their place in the final of PBL 2017 as they overcame Awadhe Warriors 4-1 in a tense first semi-final at Delhi.

Match 1: Savitree Amitrapai/Bodin Issara (AWD) vs Gabrielle Adcock/Chris Adcock (CHE)

The semi-finals started off with the mixed doubles encounter as Awadhe’s team of Savitree Amitrapai and Bodin Issara took on Chennai’s team of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock. Both pairs were unbeaten in the tournament and only one pair was going to remain so.

Savitree and Issara started off the brighter of the two as they calmly went into a 6-5 lead over the husband-wife pair. The Adcocks though, soon overturned the deficit and showed sizzling chemistry on court to take the first game 11-9. Savitree and Issara however, showed they were no pushovers as they started off the second game with a bang, forcing the Adcocks into errors and taking a healthy 6-2 lead into the break. They then showed nerves of steel to ward off a potential fightback from the Adcocks to take the second game 11-8. Savitree and Issara then took the momentum with them into the deciding set and won a 63-shot rally as well en-route to a 6-2 lead at the half. They did not allow any opportunities to the Adcocks after that and Issara with some strong smashes and Savitree with the excellent net play, completely dominated their opponents to clinch the decider 11-6, handing Awadhe the first point of the evening.

Result: Amitrapai/Issara (AWD) beat G. Adcock/C. Adcock (CHE) 9-11, 11-8, 11-6

 

Match 2: Vincent Wong Wing Ki (AWD) vs Parupalli Kashyap (CHE)

Match 2 of the evening witnessed the first men’s single of the tie as Vincent Wong Wing Ki of Awadhe squared off against P. Kashyap of Chennai.

It was a nervy start for both as the first three points came from errors, but Kashyap showed more intensity and played some strong shots to take a 6-2 lead into the break. He then completely took control over the game and did not allow Vincent with any breathing space as he won the game with a convincing 11-4 margin. Kashyap did not show any signs of slowing down and dictated play in the second game, once again easing into a 6-2 lead at the interval. He then finished things off with coolness and composure, not making many errors and winning the crucial points to take the second game 11-6 and level the tie at 1-1.

Result: P. Kashyap (CHE) beat Vincent Wong Wing Ki (AWD) 11-4, 11-6

 

Match 3: Kidambi Srikanth (AWD) vs Tommy Sugiarto (CHE)

The third match of the semi-finals saw the second men’s singles of the evening as Awadhe’s K. Srikanth took on Chennai’s Tommy Sugiarto.

The players went toe-to-toe, with neither allowing the other to run away with any significant lead, but it was Sugiarto who had a 6-5 advantage in the break at the half. There was really not much to choose between the two in this hugely important match and Sugiarto saved two game points, while Srikanth saved one before the latter took the game 14-12. Sugiarto though, turned on the heat in the second game and had Srikanth chasing the game all the while as he took a 6-1 lead into the break. However, Srikanth staged an extraordinary comeback and absolutely trounced his opponent, winning consecutive points to completely change the complexion of the game, winning it 11-7. That straight set victory for Srikanth gave Awadhe a crucial 2-1 lead in the match.

Result: Kidambi Srikanth (AWD) beat Tommy Sugiarto (CHE) 14-12, 11-7

Match 4: Saina Nehwal (AWD) PV Sindhu (CHE)

The fourth match was the most anticipated match of the whole tournament as it involved the blockbuster encounter between the two icons of Indian badminton. It was the women’s singles of the evening as Awadhe’s Saina Nehwal faced off against PV Sindhu. Surprisingly, Chennai applied their Trump on this match.

There was very little to choose between the two as both played cautiously, carefully avoiding errors, but it was Saina who took a slight 6-5 advantage into the break in the first game. However, Sindhu underlined her class as she soon overturned the deficit and played some intelligent drop shots combined with strong smashes to take the first game 11-7. Sindhu started the second game on the front foot as she took a 6-3 lead into the break. She then took the game by storm using both deft and powerful shots to good effect as she wrapped up the game 11-8. Both players showed tremendous stamina in the game and it included a spectacular rally of 48 points, which was eventually won by Sindhu. The marquee player for the Smashers won the encounter in straight sets, handing Chennai the lead for the first time in the tie as a result of a 3-2 score line which gave her team a glimmer of hope.

Result: P V Sindhu (CHE) beat Saina Nehwal (AWD) 11-7, 11-8

 

Match 5: Goh W Shem/Markis Kido (AWD) vs Chris Adcock/Mads Pieler Kolding (CHE)

The final match of the semi-finals was the decider as it witnessed the men’s doubles match between Goh W Shem and Markis Kido of Awadhe and Chris Adcock and Mads Kolding of Chennai. Awadhe called for a Trump in this match and it was, literally, winner takes all.

Adcock and Kolding made a flying start to the game as they played some exquisite shots and showed good on-court chemistry to take an unbelievable 6-0 lead at the half. They were as dominant in the second half as they lost just three points to take the first game with an 11-3 margin and make a strong statement. It was much for harder in the second game as Shem and Kido got back their much-needed chemistry to take a narrow 6-5 lead at the break.  However, there was no stopping Adcock and Kolding as they got their own mojo back and with the help of some big smashes from Kolding, clinched the game 12-10, and with that, clinched the tie to book their place in the final courtesy of a 4-1 scoreline.

Result: Adcock/Kolding (CHE) beat Shem/Kido (AWD) 11-3, 12-10

Match Result: Chennai Smashers beat Awadhe Warriors 4-1

Hunters defeat Acers 5-2 to set up semi-final clash with Rockets

Hyderabad Hunters became the final entrants into the semi-finals of PBL 2017 as they picked up an impressive 5-2 victory over the Delhi Acers on Thursday evening.

Match 1: Siril Verma (DEL) vs Sameer Verma (HYD)

The opening match of the tie saw the first men’s single take place as Delhi’s Siril Verma faced Sameer Verma of Hyderabad.

Sameer started the game by showing more intensity and good composure near the net as well as he hit powerful smashes to notch up a 6-3 lead at the break. However, Siril clawed himself back into the game by playing some intelligent badminton, forcing his opponent into making errors and overturned the deficit to take the game 11-8. Sameer turned the heat on in the second game and put up a dominating performance to take a commanding 6-1 lead into the break. This time there would be no comeback from Siril as Sameer completely dictated play and did not allow his opponent any breathing space as he easily took the game 11-3. Sameer took the momentum with him into the deciding game and displayed strong badminton to once again go into the break leading 6-1. He extended his dominance after the break and continued with his strong smashes and excellent net play, all along showing great court coverage to take the deciding game easily by an 11-2 margin and hand the Hunters the first point of the evening.

Result: Sameer Verma (HYD) beat Siril Verma (DEL) 8-11, 11-3, 11-2

 

Match 2: Jwala Gutta/Vladimir Ivanov (DEL) vs Chau Hoi Wah/Satwik Sai Raj (HYD)

It was time for the mixed doubles match as the Acers’ pairing of Jwala Gutta and Vladimir Ivanov took on Hunters’ Chau Hoi Wah and teenage sensation Satwik Sai Raj. It was the visitors’ pair that started better as they ran to a 6-3 lead at the break. After that it was all Satwik and Chau as they pulverized their more experienced opponents to seize the first game 11-3.

Satwik continued to impress as he and Chau continued from where they left off in the first game. They stormed to a 6-2 lead at the interval and ended up winning the second game 11-4 to register an emphatic victory.

Result: Chau Hoi Wah/Satwik Sai Raj beat Chau Hoi Wah/Satwik Sai Raj 11-3, 11-4

 

Match 3: Jan O Jorgensen (DEL) vs Rajiv Ouseph (HYD)

Match 3 of the evening saw Delhi calling for a Trump as their marquee player Jan O Jorgensen took on Hyderabad’s Rajiv Ouseph.

Jorgensen made a strong start and the world number two used his experience on the court to race into a 6-2 lead at the break in the first game. He then easily took the game playing cool and composed badminton to take the game 11-5. Ouseph improved a bit in the second game but Jorgensen was too strong as he effortlessly won points to take a 6-4 lead at the half. There was hardly any room for error from Jorgensen after the break as he wrapped up the game without much problem with an 11-7 score line, and took the match in straight sets to give Delhi the first points of the tie. With that, Delhi levelled the tie at 2-2.

Result: Jan O Jorgensen (DEL) beat Rajiv Ouseph (HYD) 11-5, 11-7

 

Match 4: Nitchaon Jindapol (DEL) vs Carolina Marin (HYD)

It was the Hyderabad Hunters’ turn to take Trump as Carolina Marin took on Nitchaon Jindapol. With the Spaniard the obvious favourite, she lived up to the billing to race to a 6-1 lead. Jindapol improved exponentially after the break as Marin was unsettled by the runaround given to her by the Thai. Jindapol had two game points at 10-8 but couldn’t convert them as Marin fought back. It was a tug-of-war now as Jindapol saved a couple of game points of her own as the match reached 14-all. Then, in a dramatic moment, the shuttle was deemed out by the referee and the point awarded to Jindapol. Marin challenged the call and hawk-eye vindicated her decision to do so as the decision was reversed to hand the point and game to the Hunters.

It was a closely fought battle in the second as both players look determined not to give away easy points. It was Marin though, who had a slight initiative with a 6-4 lead at the break. The world number two showed her class after the interval winning five points in a row and ended the game with a well-placed smash to clinch the tie and help Hunters seize the final semi-final spot ahead of Bengaluru Blasters.

Result: Carolina Marin (HYD) beat Nitchaon Jindapol (DEL) 15-14, 11-4

 

Match 5: Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov (DEL) vs Tan Boon Heong/Tan Wee Kiong (HYD)

The final encounter of the tie involved a showdown between Delhi’s Russian pair of Ivanov and Sozonov against Hyderabad’s Malaysian pair of Tan Boon Heong and Tan Wee Kiong.

The two teams went toe-to-toe against each other, but it was the two Tans who had the slight edge at the half in the first game, taking a 6-5 lead. They then exhibited calm and composure to win some crucial points and take the game 11-9. The Malaysian duo displayed some good net play going into the second game and once again took a lead of 6-5 into the break. The Russian duo fought really hard and saved four match points after the break but the two Tans showed nerves of steel as they converted the fifth one and take the game 13-11, and with that the match in straight sets. That result also gave Hyderabad the tie by virtue of a 5-2 score line.

Result: Tan/Tan (DEL) beat Ivanov/Sozonov (HYD) 11-9, 13-11

Match Result: Hyderabad Hunters beat Delhi Acers 5-2

Smashers pip Warriors 4-3 in penultimate tie of league stage

Chennai Smashers edged Awadhe Warriors 4-3 on Wednesday evening in Bangalore, but the team from Lucknow stayed on top as PBL 2017 enters the closing stages.

Match 1: Vincent Wong Ki (AWD) vs Tanongsak S. (CHE)

The tie got under way with the men’s singles as Tanongsak S. of Chennai squared up against Vincent Wong Ki of Awadhe. Tanongsak started off on the front foot and played some powerful shots and showed good net play to take a healthy 6-3 lead into the break in the first game. He then breezed away with the game after the half and comfortably took the first game 11-6. Vincent put up a better performance going into the second game, cautiously avoiding errors as he edged into a 6-5 lead at the half. He kept his nerves after the break and showed good intensity to take the second set 11-9 to stretch the game into a decider.

Tanongsak came out the more aggressive of the two in the third game and played measured shots to notch up crucial points and take a 6-5 lead into the break. However, Vincent made a strong comeback into the game with some good court coverage and net play, and although Tanongsak saved two match points, Vincent proved to be the better player on the evening as he took the deciding game 12-10 and hand Awadhe the first point of the tie.

Result: Vincent Wong Ki (AWD) beat Tanongsak S. (CHE) 6-11, 11-9, 12-10

Match 2: Gabrielle Adcock/Chris Adcock (CHE) vs Prajakta Sawant/Bodin Issara (AWD)

The second match of the evening was the mixed doubles match with Chennai’s Adcocks taking on Awadhe’s first-time pairing of Prajakta Sawant and Bodin Issara. The English pair started slowly, falling behind 0-3 only to win six straight points going into the break. There was no stopping the Smashers’ pair after that as they took the first game 11-4 with relative ease.

Sawant and Issara put up better resistance in the second game as they were behind by only a point at the break at 5-6. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t enough as the well-established pair of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock edged the second game 11-9 to level the tie at one apiece for Chennai.

Result: Gabrielle Adcock/Chris Adcock (CHE) beat Prajakta Sawant/Bodin Isara (AWD) 11-4, 11-9

Match 3: Aditya Joshi (AWD) vs P. Kashyap (CHE)

Match three of the evening witnessed the second men’s doubles as the experienced P. Kashyap of the Smashers took on PBL debutant Aditya Joshi of the Warriors as Chennai called for the tie’s first Trump.

Joshi made Kashyap run all over the court and matched him stride for stride in the first game as the Smashers’ man only managed to take a 6-5 lead into the break. However, Joshi showed lack of experience after the half as he made too many errors, letting Kashyap run away with the game, clinching it at 11-7. Joshi however, responded strongly as he started the second game with a bang, forcing Kashyap into errors as he galloped to a 6-1 lead at the half. He continued with his fine momentum after the break and was relentless with his smashes and accurate drop shots, as he took the second game by a comfortable 11-5 margin. Joshi started the deciding game as the more aggressive and showed good intensity on the court to manage a 6-5 lead at the break.  However, Kashyap put all his experience into play and played some intelligent shots to overturn the deficit and deny Joshi an upset. He took the deciding game 11-7 and handed two crucial points to the Smashers.

Result: P. Kashyap (CHE) beat Aditya Joshi (AWD) 11-7, 5-11, 11-7

Match 4: Rituparna Das (AWD) vs PV Sindhu (CHE)

With the Smashers leading 3-1, one more win here could hand them the tie and render the Warriors’ Trump match inconsequential. PV Sindhu went into the match with the unheralded Rituparna Das as firm favourite and began the game by strolling to a 6-2 lead at the break. Das tried to fight back but an unperturbed Sindhu ran through the first game 11-4.

The second game saw a familiar story as Sindhu led by the same score as in the first. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist was in total control throughout and her smash proved to be too much to handle for Das. Sindhu wrapped up the second game 11-6 to give an impregnable 4-1 lead to the Chennai Smashers.

Result: PV Sindhu (CHE) beat Rituparna Das (AWD) 11-4, 11-6

Match 5: Goh W Shem/Markis Kido (AWD) vs B Sumeeth Reddy/Mads Pieler Kolding (CHE)

The tie culminated with the men’s double as the Smashers’ pair of B Sumeeth Reddy and Mads Kolding took on the team of Goh W Shem and Markis Kido of the Warriors.

Reddy and Kolding started off well as they showed good composure on the court to take a 6-5 lead at the break. However, Shem and Kido then kept cool and held off pressure from Reddy and Kolding to take the first game 12-10. Reddy and Kolding started the second game well and forced Shem and Kido into some errors as the Chennai pair again took a 6-5 lead into the half. However, Shem and Kido were once again up to the task as they once more overturned the deficit playing some smart shots and wrapping up the match by winning the game 11-8. The tie was lost though for the Warriors, as they went down 3-4 to the Smashers.

Result: Shem/Kido (AWD) beat Reddy/Kolding (CHE) 12-10, 11-8

Match Result: Chennai Smashers beat Awadhe Warriors 4-3

Smashers edge Rockets 4-3 to qualify for their second consecutive semi-final

Chennai Smashers became the third team to qualify for the semi-finals of PBL 2017 as they overcame Mumbai Rockets 4-3 in Bangalore.

Match 1: P. Kashyap (CHE) vs HS Prannoy (MUM)

The tie started off with the first men’s singles as Chennai’s P. Kashyap squared off against Mumbai’s HS Prannoy.

Prannoy showed some good net play and quick movement on the court as he started off on the front foot, taking a 6-4 lead into the break of the first game. Kashyap tried to showcase a comeback, but an agile Prannoy would have none of that as he took the game 11-9. Kashyap showed more intensity going into the second game and playing some clever, accurate shots to take a healthy 6-3 lead into the half. However, Prannoy slowly clawed his way back into the game after some smart play near the net combined with powerful smashes to convert his second match point and win the game 13-11 and match in straight sets, giving Mumbai the first point of the evening.

Result: HS Prannoy (MUM) beat P. Kashyap (CHE) 11-9 13-11

 

Match 2: Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock (CHE) vs Chirag Shetty/Nadiezda Zieba (MUM)

The Smashers called for a trump as their ever reliable pair of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock took to the court against Chirag Shetty and Nadiezda Zieba in the mixed doubles encounter for match 2. Chirag Shetty was making his first appearance of the tournament this season.

Shetty and Zieba made a surprisingly strong start as they dominated to take a 6-3 lead into the break of the first game. There was no slack in their efforts after the break either, despite the Adcocks’ best efforts to stage a comeback, as Shetty and Zieba stayed calm to edge 11-9 in the first game. The Adcocks though, started to showcase their excellent on-court chemistry, playing some smart shots to take a commanding 6-1 lead at the break of the second game. They continued their relentless form after the break and finished off the second game in no time, with a 11-2 score to win. The Adcocks started off where they left in the deciding set and fought their way to a 6-4 lead at the half. They never loosened their grip on the match and were in control to win the deciding game 11-7, and the trump match for Chennai, handing them a 2-1 lead over Mumbai.

Result: Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock (CHE) beat Chirag Shetty/Nadiezda Zieba (MUM) 9-11 11-2 11-7

 

Match 3: Tommy Sugiarto (CHE) vs Ajay Jayaram (MUM)

The third match of the evening witnessed the second men’s single of the night featuring Smashers’ Tommy Sugiarto against Rockets’ Ajay Jayaram.

The players matched each other stride for stride in the opening game, with both cautious of the others’ movements on the court, but it was Jayaram who managed to edge into a 6-5 lead at the half. He continued playing some composed badminton and Sugiarto made some glaring errors as Jayaram took the first game 11-8. Sugiarto though started the second game with a bang, playing some strong shots, and it was Jayaram this time with the errors as the Smashers’ man galloped to a 6-1 lead at the break. Sugiarto was relentless after the half, not allowing Jayaram even a sniff at any opportunity, as he took the second game comfortably with a 11-2 score line. Sugiarto took his momentum into the deciding game as Jayaram continued to make costly errors, handing Sugiarto a 6-2 lead at the break. Sugiarto never looked back from thereon as he dominated to easily take the third game, courtesy of an 11-5 scoreline, and hand his team a 3-1 lead in the tie.

Result: Tommy Sugiarto (CHE) beat Ajay Jayaram (MUM) 8-11 11-2 11-5

 

Match 4: PV Sindhu (CHE) vs Sung Ji Hyun (MUM)

Match 4 was the most anticipated encounter of the evening as Smashers’ marquee player PV Sindhu took on world number three and Mumbai’s most expensive player, Sung Ji Hyun in the women’s singles.

Both players went toe-to-toe in the first game covering the court well and hit some powerful shots. Sung Ji, though, managed to take a slender 6-5 advantage into the break. However, Sindhu soon overturned the deficit after the break and showed speed in her court coverage and power in her shots to take the first game 11-8. Sindhu took her good form into the second game and did not allow Hyun much breathing space, taking a healthy 6-3 lead into the break. Hyun gave the 2016 Olympic silver medalist a good run for her money after the break and even saved two match points, but there was no stopping Sindhu as she took the game 12-10, and with that the match in straight sets. That victory gave Chennai an unassailable 4-1 lead on the evening, taking the tie away from Mumbai’s reach.

Result: PV Sindhu (CHE) beat Sung Ji Hyun (MUM) 11-8 12-10

 

Match 5: Chris Adcock/Mads Pieler Kolding (CHE) vs Lee Yong Dae/Nipithphon P. (MUM)

The final encounter of the tie involved the men’s doubles featuring a showdown between the Smashers’ pair of Chris Adcock and Mads Kolding against the Rockets’ trump pairing of Nipithphon P. and Lee Yong Dae.

Lee and Nipithphon started the game with some dominating badminton, completely dictating play as they took a 6-2 lead into the break. They then steamed away after the break playing some powerful shots to take the first game in the blink of an eye by virtue of an 11-3 score line. They showed no signs of slowing down in the second game either, as they raced away to a 6-3 lead at the break. The Mumbai pair were relentless as usual after the half and had no problem wrapping up the match by winning the second game 11-5. It was too late to save the tie though as they lost by a 4-3 margin, but those three points took the already-qualified Rockets to the top spot in the table.

Result: Lee/Nipithphon (MUM) beat Adcock/Kolding (CHE) 11-3 11-5

Match Result: Chennai Smashers beat Mumbai Rockets 4-3