OLYMPICS/Badminton duo upset world No. 1 Indonesians to stay alive in Tokyo

07/27/2021 06:25 PM
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Lee Yang (left) and Wang Chi-lin. Photo: AP
Lee Yang (left) and Wang Chi-lin. Photo: AP

Taipei, July 27 (CNA) For Lee Yang (李洋) and Wang Chi-lin (王齊麟), there were no mulligans left.

Either beat the world's top-ranked men's doubles badminton team from Indonesia for the first time or see their Olympic hopes dashed in the preliminary round.

The world No. 3 Taiwanese duo answered the challenge, edging past Marcus Gideon Fernaldi and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in their final Group A match 21-18, 15-21, 21-17 to qualify for the final eight knockout round.

"We finally made it!" Lee wrote on Facebook of beating the Indonesian duo for the first time, but he cautioned that the competition still had a long way to go in the event.

Wang also expressed his joy after beating the top-rated Indonesians.

"We're happy not only because we won, but because we were able to score a breakthrough," he wrote on Facebook.

In a match that was tight throughout, the Taiwanese tried to apply the pressure to the top-rated team, attacking whenever possible, taking chances at net to pick off shots early, and keeping their opponents off balance.

While that worked in the first game, unforced errors, mostly defensive shots that went beyond the baseline, began to haunt the Taiwanese in the next frame, helping the Indonesians even up the match.

In the decider, Lee and Yang held a narrow edge for much of the game, but it took repeated smashes, an opportune net cord, acrobatic gets and a few errors by their opponents to lift them to victory down the stretch.

To advance to the final eight, Lee and Yang had to finish in the top two of their group, the chances of which appeared bleak after they were upset by a world No. 10 duo from India in their opening group match.

They then defeated a British team before securing a 2-1 record in Group A with the victory Tuesday, putting them in a three-way with the teams from Indonesia and India.

But the Indian team was eliminated because they only won one more game than they lost (4-3) in their three matches, while the Taiwanese had a plus-2 rating (5-3).

Lee and Wang have played together since 2019, and they had high expectations coming into the Olympics after sweeping three high-level tournaments, including the HSBC Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Finals, early this year in Thailand.

(By Huang Chiao-wen and Ko Lin)

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