GUANGZHOU (China) – INDONESIA and South Korea got off to winning starts at the 2009 Sudirman Cup in the opening session Sunday in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, but there was disappointment for Malaysia.
Indonesia smashed a young Japan team 4-1 and South Korea defeated Malaysia 3-2 as the mixed team championships got off to a largely predictable start. ‘We are confident and optimistic that we will bring the cup home,’ said a satisfied Indonesian team manager Yacob Rusdianto.
Strongly fancied to be one of the main threats to hosts China, Indonesia, cheered on by a small but vociferous band of followers marooned in one corner of the Guangzhou Gymnasium, raced to a 3-0 lead against Japan.
Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Indonesia’s world number six, made light work of Kenichi Tago after a slow start, eventually running out the winner 21-17, 21-16, leaving Japanese hopes in tatters on day one at 3-0 down. They pulled a point back in comfortably winning the women’s doubles before Indonesia pulled further ahead 4-1 to leave the inexperienced Japan team deflated.
In the other top group, world men’s number one Lee Chong Wei steamrolled past Jang Young-Soo to bring Malaysia back to 1-1 against South Korea. Lee won the first game at a canter and hardly broke sweat to win the second and seal the match in just 31 minutes.
South Korea had earlier taken the lead after the world number two mixed doubles team of Lee Yoong-Dae and Lee Hyo-Jung needed three games to beat Koo Kean Keat and Wong Pei Tty.
With the scores at 2-2 after one further victory apiece, the Koreans easily won the final match, the women’s doubles, to take the tie overall 3-2.
‘To keep alive now we have to win the next matches in our group, which is going to be difficult because all the teams are ready to make a good impression,’ said a clearly disappointed Malaysian team manager Maijol Mahap.
Despite the narrow victory, South Korea head coach Kim Jong-Soo said China would be at a huge advantage because they have picked a larger squad. ‘In this sense, the Korean players will have a more difficult time winning,’ he said.
Holders and strong favourites China open their assault on the Sudirman Cup in the second session on Sunday evening against England.