The Australian Olympic team managed to end their Olympic campaign on a high with both the women’s singles and doubles players/pairs winning their final group stage matches.
It was a tense four days of group stage action for the quadrant, full of cross court dives, mid-rally racket swaps and adrenaline-fuelled action. Olympic debutants Simon Leung and Gronya Somerville almost pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournaments on day one as they stunned the fourth seeds (Praveen Jordan/Melati Oktavianti) to take the first game and lead up until 17-15 in the second, before the experience of the Indonesians prevailed.
Neither doubles pairs were able to follow up with a win until the very last day when Gronya and Setyana held off the Dane’s, alongside two-time Olympian Wendy Chen, who secured her first win on the world’s biggest stage.
The Australian duo of Gronya Somerville and Setyana Mapasa went into Group C of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with high hopes, with aims to top their box before progressing into the knockout stages.
However, the pairs ambitions were quickly thrown into disarray as they suffered a loss in two straight games, in their first two matches.
- Lee Sohee/Shin Seungchan (KOR) vs Setyana Mapasa/Gronya Somerville (AUS) 21-9 21-6
- Du Yue/Li Yin Hui (CHN) vs Setyana Mapasa/Gronya Somerville (AUS) 21-9 21-12
However, in one of the biggest surprises of the women’s doubles draw so far, Somerville and Mapasa held their ground against the higher ranked Danes. A narrow first game win provided the platform for the Australians, as their opponents surprisingly withered in the third game.
- Setyana Mapasa/Gronya Somerville (AUS) vs Maiken/Sara (DEN) 21-19 13-21 21-12
The result gave a lifeline to Lee Sohee/Shin Seungchan (who one day earlier, suffered a surprise loss to the Danish pair) ahead of their final group match against Du Yue/Li Yin Hui, helping them qualify for the quarterfinals ahead of the Danes.
“I don’t know if it’s our biggest win, but happening at the Olympics is really special. We’ve been pretty disappointed with our performance so far, so to finish with a win against a great pair and to have played some good badminton for all our family and friends in Australia to watch is really special.”
“We knew we could do better after our first two losses. We weren’t really dispirited. We knew we had it in us to play this level. So we’re really happy to have done that today,” said Somerville.
Gronya Somerville was the only player from Australia to compete in two disciplines, having also played alongside Simon Leung in the mixed doubles.
Their Olympic campaign got off to a fantastic start as the underdogs took the first game against the fourth seeded Indonesians, with Gronya showing exceptional serving skills as the pair recovered from 15-20 down, to win 22-20. The alarm bells started to ring for the Indonesians as the Australian duo lead up until 17-15 in the second game, only four points away from pulling off the tournaments biggest upset. However, the powerhouse of Praveen Jordan started to take hold and the experienced Indonesians eventually ran away with a win over three games.
- Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti (INA) vs Simon Leung/Gronya Somerville (AUS) 20-22 21-17 21-13
The Australians then had to face two more higher ranked pairs in their Group C stage matches, eventually finishing in last position in their box as the Japanese and Danish pairs proved too strong on the day.
- Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino (JPN) vs Simon Leung/Gronya Somerville (AUS) 21-7 21-15
- Mathias Christiansen/Alexandra Boje (DEN) vs Simon Leung/Gronya Somerville (AUS) 21-6 21-14
Six-time Oceania champion, Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen, also missed out on a space in the knockout stages, but was able to secure her first Olympic win in Tokyo.
Her first match was against the 13th seed, Mia Blichfeldt. While Wendy was able to find a better form in the second game, it was too little, too late as Mia raced her way to the finish line.
However, Wendy was able to celebrate her first victory against Bulagaria’s Linda Zetchiri in her final group stage match. The Bulgarian later lost to Blichfeldt too, leaving Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen in second place of Group I and unable to progress into the knockout rounds.
- Mia Blichfeldt (DEN) vs Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen (AUS) 21-7 21-14
- Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen (AUS) vs Linda Zetchiri (BUL) 21-16 20-22 21-8
Article adapted from Badminton Oceania website.