Story by Nicole Lum/Red Sports. Photos by Matthew Lau, Clara Yuan/Red Sports and Jerald Ang/Red Sports.
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Saturday, June 13, 2015 — In the women’s singles badminton competition at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Singapore’s Liang Xiaoyu posted her first victory with a win in straight sets against Yee Le Le of Myanmar in their round of 16 encounter. However, compatriot Grace Chua failed to advance after she was taken down 0–2 by Indonesia’s Lindaweni Fanetri.
Xiaoyu closed out her first Women’s Singles match in just 15 minutes with a clear 21-4, 21-5 victory. While the Burmese fought hard for an upset, the Singaporean capitalised on her errors with her swift footwork and strategic hits to win the encounter.
The 19-year-old is ranked 106th in the world, while opponent Yee Le Le of Myanmar is unranked. Coming into this match, Xiaoyu had the upper hand, having had more experience from competing in the 2011 SEA Games, as well as the Commonwealth Games and Youth Olympic Games in 2014.
Speaking about her win, Xiaoyu said: “I played quite well today. The opponent was also not so strong. Most importantly, I gained confidence as I didn’t make a lot of mistakes.”
This win advances Xiaoyu to the quarter-finals, where she will play against Hanna Ramadini of Indonesia on Sunday, June 14, 2.45pm at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“I played with her two years back in the team event and we lost three sets then,” Xiaoyu mentioned. “This time, I’ll try my best, as I think I have a chance to win it.”
“We have been analysing each other’s videos. I think both of us have been preparing a lot for this quarter-final as this match is very important, because it determines who will go into the semi-final,” she added.
Xiaoyu felt encouraged playing in front of the home crowd. “Today my performance was quite okay as I was not very nervous and my opponent was also not especially strong. With the Singaporean supporters in the stands, my confidence grew and I got a very warm feeling when they cheered for me,” she concluded.
While Xiaoyu will continue to play for a spot on the podium, teammate Grace will not be joining her. The latter lost 11-21, 19-21 in her game against Indonesia’s Lindaweni.
In the beginning of the first set, Lindaweni scored six points in a row before Grace got her first. The Indonesian also employed several tactical shots that sent Grace scrambling for the shuttlecock. Leveraging on Grace’s errors, Lindaweni was able to pull away early to take the first set 21–11.
Grace came out fighting in the second set and gave her opponent a run for her money. The Singaporean was able to adapt to Lindaweni’s tactics quickly and even led by two points at one period. Several faults by Lindaweni also gave Grace the advantage.
However, it was Lindaweni who proved to be the stronger player with her persistent play and speed. She staved off a spirited comeback from Grace who scored five consecutive points late in the set to win it 21–19, ending Grace’s SEA Games campaign with a 0–2 loss.
“I just wanted to go in and try my best because I knew she was good as she played very well during the team event. I just went for every shot and just played point by point. I tried my best,” said Grace.
On her slow start in the first set, Grace explained: “I guess I wasn’t really used to her style and her speed during the first set, but in the second set I was able to get used to the game. My coaches really helped me a lot so I managed to change my game plan and that really worked in the second set.”
Grace’s maiden SEA Games campaign ends here and she leaves with a bronze medal in the Women’s Team event.
Women’s Singles Round of 16 Results
Liang Xiaoyu (SIN) 2 Yee Le Le (MYA) 0
Chua Hui Zhen Grace (SIN) 0 Lindaweni Fanetri (INA) 2
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