On day one of competition at the TOTAL BWF Sudriman Cup 2019, neighbouring countries New Zealand and Australia were up against each other once again in Group 3A.
In a repeat of the VICTOR Oceania Mixed Team Championships final, where Australia won 3-2, the Australian’s walked into the match as favourites, starting with the Mixed Doubles.
Both pairs were eager to get the first match on the scoreboard for their representative countries as the game went to three ends. Eventually, it was the Australian duo of Setyana Mapasa and Swawn Serasinghe who found the rhythm to storm through the third game:
Sawan Serasinghe/Setyana Mapasa (AUS) vs Olivery Leydon-Davis/Anona Park 21-15 21-23 21-7
“We haven’t played a lot together recently so the tempo was a bit off. After two sets, we felt a lot calmer and just played our game, Setyana was setting up the shots and we just executed from there” – Sawan Serasinghe
“We got off to an alright start but lost focused towards the end of the first. We came out better in the second and managed to find the spaces a bit more and got better towards the end. They came out strong in the third and we lost composure, got a bit snatchy and lost our patience.” – Oliver Leydon-Davis
Followed by the women’s singles, Australia’s Louisa Ma demonstrated her eagerness to secure a win on her tournament debut. New Zealand’s Sally Fu put up a respectable fight but Ma outwitted her opponent to take the tie:
Louisa Ma (AUS) vs Sally Fu (NZL) 21-18 18-21 21-11
“There was a bit of a drift in the stadium which we both had to deal with. There were a few in the second set where Sally was hitting out the back and then we swapped ends and that’s when I struggle as well, so it was quite close in the second set but I tried to control it more in the third set and came away with a win” – Louisa Ma
“The match was pretty good. It was quite tough playing with that crowd in China, but I think I dealt with it quite well. There’s a lot more I could do to play a better game in the future.” – Sally Fu
With the weight of New Zealand resting on his shoulders, 2018 regional Champion, Abhinav Manota faced a must-win situation to keep the dream alive. Competing against the 2019 Australian National Champion, Jacob Schueler, Manota showed his experience to take the game in two:
Abhinav Manota (NZL) vs Jacob Schueler (AUS) 21-16 21-17
“When I went on to court I did have the pressure as we were two nil down already. But I went on to the court I was just trying to focus on the fact this was my match and try not focus on the fact we are down two nil. I think I managed it well. I was winning the longer rallies and got into it.” – Abhinav Manota
“It worked when I found the corners and the length. His style was quite fast and flat and it didn’t quite go my way.” – Jacob Schueler
New Zealand’s Anona Pak and Alyssa Tagle walked onto the court as underdogs against the reigning regional Champions and world number 59 pair, Gronya Somerville and Setyana Mapasa. The kiwi’s briefly got off to head start but the Australian’s constantly gained momentum, with a run of six consecutive points, ran away with the match in two:
Gronya Somerville/Setyana Mapasa (AUS) vs Anona Pak/Alyssa Tagle 21-12 21-11
“We were really happy that we were able to get the third tie for Australia, which gives us the win. We have two more matches in the group and Ireland will be another tough one but hopefully we can finish on top.” – Gronya Somerville
Despite having secured the win, both teams turned up with a fighting spirit in a repeat of a surprisingly early meet between the two pairs at the second round at the VICTOR Oceania Individual Championships. With constant switches between attack and defense, three intense games spanned over 53 minutes ending with an almost identical score to the previous encounter:
Sawan Serasinghe/Eric Vuong (AUS) vs Oliver Leydon-Davis/Abhinav Manota (NZL) 13-21 21-15 22-20
“In the first set we were playing the wrong game. They were on top of us which was reflected in the score. We changed our game and opened up the court a bit more. We played longer rallies and were just more solid that gave us more attack.” – Eric Vuong
“We’re pretty gutted, we were up in the third set and had a match point, but a couple of mistakes on the crucial points and that was it.” – Abhinav Manota
Australia 4 – 1 New Zealand
Follow all the draws and results from the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup here.