(Photo: Badminton Photo)
Akchurina/ Morozova bounce back and Vittinghus ‘close to perfect’
Date: 1/19/2021 3:44 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
With just a single day’s rest, the second Thailand Open is back with a bang in Bangkok. Round one commenced today and this is what you may have missed from day one. 

Russia’s Anastasiia Akchurina/ Olga Morozova have been regulars on the European circuit and have been trying to project their good form from the tail end of 2019 onto the World Tour stage. The 2017 European Championships bronze medallists had a tough loss at the YONEX Thailand Open last week against Malaysia Vivien Hoo/ Yap Cheng Wen. 

This week, they had an opportunity to bounce back at the TOYOTA Thailand Open but were up against a tricky Thai pair eight places higher in the ranking, Chayanit Chaladchalam/ Phataimas Muenwong. The Russian duo was behind the whole way in the first game until levelling at 16-16. They then capitalised on some nerves from the hard-hitting Thai pair to take the opening game. 

Spurred on by this result, the leading margin gradually widened in the second game until they were match point up at 20-13. As we see so often, a mental block occurred at this crucial moment, and the Thai pair won six points in a row to get just one point away from levelling the scoreline, but not this time. Akchurina/ Morozova got the vital point to gift them a win and the right to play world number four pair, Lee So Hee/ Shin Seung Chan.

Vittinghus victorious
After a first-round draw against his teammate Rasmus Gemke last week, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus was hoping for a kinder draw this time around. In the same year as Akchurina/ Morozova above, the 2017 European Championships bronze medallist faced Spain’s Luis Enrique Penalver. The Dane revelled in the moment and used his experience to secure the win, 21-11, 21-13. 

-I am really happy with my performance today. I was a little bit nervous in the beginning because I know that ‘Quique’ Penalver should not be underestimated. But after the first few rallies I played the game I planned with my coach, made very few mistakes today and it was close to perfect from me, Vittinghus said confidently. 

Vittinghus who has been around the badminton world for a little while will now go down memory lane. His next opponent is Indonesia’s Shesar Hiren Rhustavito. Their only previous match was no less than 10 years ago at the Syed Modi Memorial India Open when Rhustavito was just 17 years of age. Vittinghus won comfortably then, but a decade on, time will tell how it will go this time. 

-I will be the underdog against Rhustavito, so I will just go out there and try to enjoy it and hope I can beat him like I did when he was 17 years old, Vittinghus jested. 

Caljouw’s fight to the end
Dutch star Mark Caljouw is a fighter on court, and he demonstrated this against Lee Cheuk Yiu. The 2019 French Open was round one between the two, and at 16-16 in the decider, Caljouw was forced to retire. 

Round two between the two happened today and there was nothing to separate them once again. Caljouw, after a dominant opening game, squandered three match points in the second. With momentum behind the man from Hong Kong, Lee led most of the way through the decider. As we all know, Caljouw always fights to the end, and scraped it back to save a match point, but lost it on the second. The match ended 13-21, 25-23, 22-20 to Lee. 

Poulsen/ Bøje through to the quarterfinals already
Denmark’s Mette Poulsen/ Alexandra Bøje are through to the quarterfinals after their win against Singapore’s Jin Yujia/ Wong Jia Ying. This is due to the absence of world number one Japanese pair, Yuki Fukushima/ Sayaka Hirota. Their likely opponents come Friday will be YONEX Thailand Open champions, Greysia Polii/ Apriyani Rahayu. 

-I think we have learnt something from last week. We knew it was the same this week in that we had a really good chance. Last week we panicked a little bit, so we talked about it today that no matter what we have to believe in the process. We felt more comfortable on court today, Poulsen explained. 

For the full results and fixtures, click here

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