India’s Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa finally turned things around in their Olympics campaign with a hard, ground-out win against a Chinese Taipei pair. It was the kind of performance that one had expected from the Indians after all the hype before the Olympics.
The 25-23, 16-21, 21-18 victory against Chen Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Ching kept alive their hopes of qualifying from the group. The Indians will now take on Singapore pair Yao Lie and Shinta Sari for a place in the quarters. They have beaten them before – at the Commonwealth Games final in Delhi – but the Singaporeans are a tough pair and it might be another long and tense encounter.
Diju and Jwala have already crashed out of the mixed doubles as they lost both their encounters. They will play an inconsequential match against a Korean pair later today.
The women’s doubles match was tight all the way. Jwala and Ashwini had game point at 20-19 in the first game, but the Taipei pair saved that and had three of their own before the Indians clinched the first game. The second and third games were just as close.
Meanwhile, defending champion Lin Dan made his first appearance on court and was untroubled by Scott Evans. Lin stroked his way to a straight-games win and booked his place in the last-16, where he awaits the winner of Group O (either Taufik Hidayat or Pablo Abian). World No.2 Lee Chong Wei, whose Olympic challenge has looked suspect ever since he twisted his ankle recently, was taken to three games by Ville Lang of Finland and wasn’t too happy with the way he played.
Other singles winners in the session included Tai Tzu Ying (10, Taipei) over Anu Nieminen, Cheng Shao Chieh (Taipei, 7) over Simone Prutsch (Austria), and Dmytro Zavadsky (Ukraine) over Ajfan Rasheed (Maldives). “I felt like a superstar when my name was called for my first match in my first Olympics,” said Tai Tzu Ying. “My strokes are usually powerful and since the drift was going against me, it worked to my advantage.”
In other action, a brave performance by world No.21 pair Michal Logosz and Adam Cwalina pushed new stars Maneepong Jongjit and Bodin Issara of Thailand to the brink in their Group B men’s doubles match, but the engrossing encounter was cut short by injury to Logosz. The Polish player dived to a drop shot and pulled his left Achilles tendon, and was wheeled out for treatment. The Thai pair thus emerged victorious 14-21 21-13 17-15, to top the group with three wins, and ensure a place in the quarterfinals.