News from Fuzhou

Friday, November 7, Samantha and I left for Asia to play the Thaihot China Open in Fuzhou, China and the Yonex Sunrise Hong Kong Open in Hong Kong. Both events are Super Series tournaments.

Although now and then troubled by some heavy turbulence we had a smooth journey and we arrived at our destination Saturday morning at 10:15 am (03:15 am CET). Fuzhou is a “relatively small” Chinese city with only 6 million inhabitants. I deliberately say small, because that’s what it seems to be to Chinese concepts. To me it is a real big city with gigantic buildings, many hotels and a lot of traffic, very very heavy traffic. I am glad we have traffic rules and regulations at home because here they play a kind of Tetris but then in a car, bus or tuk-tuk. They find the smallest holes to crawl through. Each ride to and from the arena is a hell of a job for the driver. But yes, he is accustomed to drive here and manoeuvre through so many vehicles. Fortunately it always goes well.

The arena in which we play is just built and still smells new. It is the largest hall in which I have ever played. I estimate that it certainly is 50 meters high. Along with the fact that the lights above the courts are very strong it makes the circumstances not exactly easy to play badminton in. We get the opportunity to practice 3 times in the main hall, which is a luxury position at such a big event. This allows us to adapt well to the playing conditions.

Here as well as next week in Hong Kong we have drawn the same opponents in the first round. They are Widianto and Dili from Indonesia. About a month ago they were our opponents in the final of the Yonex Dutch Open and then we lost in five games with the experimental scoring system 5×11. This time we play according to the familiar 3×21. Beforehand we analyze our final of the YDO together with our coach Kim Nielsen and we come to some new aspects to take notice of. With those in our minds we enter the arena. We play on one of the side courts, which is an advantage because there the light is less blazing.

From the first point in the first game we can play the game as we have discussed previously. Samantha is playing very well at the net and each time she dares challenging Dili. This way I can keep the field compact and several times I can successfully step forward from half court to the net. Until the end of the game, we stay close together. At 21-20, at our second game point, we score the winning point.
In the next game we continue our strong and offensive playing. The Indonesians are getting increasingly uncertain and start making mistakes. Two series of 7 and 4 consecutive points allow us to take a convincing lead and soon we decide the match in our favour by 21-10. Obviously we are very happy with this revenge win and also our coach Kim is more than happy!

In the second round, on Thursday, we face the numbers 4 of the seeding list, the former world champions Ahmad and Natsir from Indonesia. This mixed double rests on Lilyana Natsir. I dare honestly say that she is the best mixed doubles lady there is at the moment. Since 2005 she has been at the world top and she probably cannot even count the number of Super Series victories. Ahmad is the lucky elected one to be allowed to play with her and he too, of course, performs very well.
We have played them once before and that was during the Swiss Open in 2013. Then we had no chance and unfortunately this is still the case. We try everything, but they always have an answer. With twice 21-11 we have to acknowledge them as our superior. Their service and the way Natsir extends her overhead make this pair to be absolute world class.

For us the tournament is over. The next few days we’ll practice here and on Sunday we’ll fly to Hong Kong for the next Super Series tournament. There, on Wednesday, we’ll meet……. Widianto and Dili again!

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One Response to “News from Fuzhou”

  1. Johan Claessens schreef:

    Nice story Jorrit, hope Samantha & you will perform well in HK, being acclimatized to temperature, humidity, food and other inconveniancies of the far East

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