Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pre-quarters at Surabaya

Indonesia Open: We arrived in Surabaya the day after the big earthquake in Indonesia and were a bit worried but Surabaya was not affected by the quake. The Indonesia Open was to be a 6-star event, meaning there would be a lot of ranking points on offer here.

Taufik Hidayat, the current World and Olympic Champion, has a great record here having won this event five times already. I was up against Shoji Sato in the first round, the 9/16 seed from Japan. Sato has been in great form, having beaten Taufik Hidayat in the Thomas Cup finals in Japan in May.

I had watched him play before but this was our first match. I won 21-18, 17-21, 21-19. I had a good strategy in this match and was able to execute it well enough to win. Sato is very quick around the court, probably the quickest in the world, but has trouble keeping up the speed as he gets tired playing at that fast pace. I knew there would be some rallies where I would have no chance at all because he is so quick. But I also knew that if I was able to hang on for a few rallies at the fast pace, Sato would tire and give me some easy points. In the end, I feel I won because I was fitter than him.

In the second round I beat Bo Rafn of Denmark 21-10, 21-12. I was accustomed to the conditions on court by now and had a great match against Bo. In the third round, the last 16 stage, I was up against Qui Yanbo, a young Chinese. I lost to Yanbo 15-21, 19-21. Towards the end of the match, I could see that Yanbo was very tired and I would’ve had the advantage in the third game if I’d won the second, but I just didn’t play well enough in the closing stages of the second game and lost in straight sets.

Excepting me and Kashyap, who lost in the second round, nobody in the our men's singles team managed to get past the first round. Getting to the last 16 stage in a 6-star event was a good result for me, and I went up about 15 places on the world rankings after this result.

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