The wheel of competition is again in motion after a brief pause to accommodate the London Olympics. Over in Asia, it started with the Singapore International Challenge two weeks ago and last weekend, Ho Chi Min played host to the Vietnam Gold series. The ‘big boys’ are still on ‘holiday’ but not for long.
The second half of the Super Series programme starts in China at the Olympic Sports Center Xincheng Gymnasium from 11th September with the China Masters and a week later, players zoom in to the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium for the Japan Open.
But the absence of the headline-grabbers from London 2012 did little to damper the enthusiasm of players and spectators in Singapore or Ho Chi Min City. On the contrary, as TV commentator pointed out during the ‘live’ telecast of the Finals, there was hardly an empty seat at the Phan Dinh Phung Complex when the Finals were played out on Sunday afternoon.
The drawcard of course was the home-town darling Nguyen Thien Minh. Twenty-nine year old Tien Minh has been the mainstay of Vietnamese badminton for close to a decade and still ranks among the best in the sport. Badminton World Federation has him ranked at a high14.
In Men Singles Finals, he faced the rising young Japanese Takuma Ueda. Takuma was six years younger and 21 rungs below Thien Minh in world ranking. But experience made the difference in the final analysis.
The top seed after taking the first game at a leisurely-paced 21-14 was called to bring in his reserves to starve off a determined Ueda. The 21-19 second game scoreline reflects the closeness of the game.
Age also stood in good stead when the brother-sister pairing of Markis Kido and Pia Zabediah of Indonesia edged out the Malaysian youngsters Tan Quan Aik & Lai Pei Jing in an extremely close first game, winning only after the game had been set to ‘deuce’. That loss completely destroyed the Malaysians from making any second effort to force the ‘rubber’.
Earlier in the afternoon Pia had partnered another youngster Rizzki Amelia to upset the higher ranked Malaysian twins Ng Hui Ern & Ng Hui Lin to a closely fought encounter 21-17, 21-19 to win the Women Doubles. The Indonesia were ranked 52 while the Malaysians 35 by BWF.
In the battle between youths, Thailand’s Porntip justified her 17th ranking in her match against the 74th ranked Indonesian opponent Lindaweni Fenetri. The final score, 21-10, 21-18.
Unfortunately when the next big tournament, the China Master comes around on 11th September, none of the title winners in Ho Chi Minh city will be there. That leg of the Super Series will have the elite of the sport in action. But towards the close of the month we should see some of the ‘Vietnam Veterans’ in action when the Indonesian Gold series is held from 25th September in Jakarta.
Results Vietnam Open 2012
Nguyan Thien Minh (VTE) beat Takuma Ueda (JPN) beat 21-14, 21-19
R. Porntip (THA) beat Lindaweni Fenetri (INA) beat 21-10, 21-18
Bodin Issara & I. Maneepong (THA) beat 19-21, 21-16, 21-11 Yohanes Sugiarto & Afiat Wirawan (INA)
Pia Zabediah & Rizzki Amelia (INA) beat 21-17, 21-19 Ng Hui Ern & Ng Hui Lin (MAS)
Kido Markis & Pia Zabediah (INA) beat 23-21, 21-8 Tan Quan Aik & Lai Pei Jing (MAS)