Ahmedabad, Jan. 4:
Former World No. 2 Sung Ji Hyun held her nerves to stave off a spirited comeback from Olympic champion Carolina Marin as Chennai Smashers beat Pune 7 Aces at the Vodafone Premier Badminton League Season 4 here on Thursday.
This was the second win on the trot for the Season 2 champions following their huge 6-1 win over the Ahmedabad Smash Masters. As for Sung, this was her second big upset this season, having accounted for PV Sindhu in an earlier match.
Pune captain and icon player Carolina Marin couldn’t find her sharpness in the initial stages of the match. Too many unforced errors bothered the Olympic champion as the Chennai shuttler raced ahead to 10-5.
The southpaw remained unfazed by that start and steadily got into the groove to draw level at 13-13. However, her efforts were in vain as the Korean managed to squeeze out the tight first game 15-14.
Having lost the opener closely, a resilient Marin looked lethal in the second game, racing ahead to 8-0. Continuing her brutal form, the unstoppable Spaniard wrapped up the second game 15-7.
Sung put up a valiant fightback in the decider to come back from 5-8 down to even the score at 9-9. With Marin inching ahead, the Korean dug deep to come up with a fabulous slice dropshot to make it 13-13 before completing the victory for the Smashers.
Earlier in the day, the tie started off with a highly entertaining mixed doubles match between the Chennai Trump pair of Chris-Gabby Adcock and the Pune pair of Ivanov-Kjaersfeldt.
With both determined not to give the other an inch of space, what ensued was a pretty competitive first game. The Chennai pair eked out the game 15-13 by the slightest of margins.
Ivanov upped the intensity of his smashes in the second game to build a 10-8 advantage for Pune. But the Adcocks showed why they are the No. 9 team in the world through a determined fightback to take the close Trump match 15-13, 15-14.
Consistency was the keyword for Chennai Smashers’ Rajiv Ouseph in the men’s singles rubber against Pune’s Brice Leverdez. The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist used a perfect concoction of attack and variation to take the game away from the Frenchman.
Starting off with a commanding 8-2 lead, he never relented and managed to close out the first game 15-6.
The 30th ranked Leverdez, who is four places above Ouseph in the BWF World Rankings, got down to work in the second game. Inching ahead to 8-7 at half-time, he was able to keep steadily adding points to go up to 10-7 before pocketing it 15-8 in a fantastic turnaround.
Rajiv made up for his mistakes and remained more consistent in the decider. Despite Leverdez drawing level at 11-11, Ouseph was able to hold his nerves for a 15-6, 8-15, 15-13 victory.