The no. 1 hope of Vietnamese badminton at the tournament, held at Nguyen Du Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, won two matches in a row on Thursday to book a slot in the last eight.
In the morning, Minh started his Round 2 match against No. 8 seed, Indonesia’s Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo. Despite encountering a more appreciated opponent, Minh unexpectedly had an easy match as Wardoyo could only cause trouble for the top Vietnamese badminton player in the first minutes of the first set. From trailing at 11-15, Tien Minh immediately scored 10 consecutive points to come from behind and win 21-15 in set 1.
The 36-year-old continued his excellent form in set 2, quickly wrapping up the set at 21-14 and beating his opponent 2-0 after 33 minutes to progress to the third round. Minh only had about eight hours to rest before facing the Youth Olympic Games champion Li Shi Feng from China in his next match at 6 pm on Thursday evening.
The 19-year-old Li, is currently ranked 77th in the world, 15 places lower than Tien Minh’s rankings. However, the young Chinese player entered the game with great stamina that somewhat surprised his senior rival.
In set one, Li scored straight six points to lead 7-1. However, Minh calmed down to neutralise the opponent's pace, then shortened the gap to 8-9 and 11-12. The 36-year-old proved his experience to win each valuable point and then took the 19-18 lead, before finishing the first set at 23-21.
In set 2, the host player maintained his excitement to continuously take lead with a huge margin. He took the 18-11 lead to stand at a decisive moment to finish the match. However, with nothing left to lose, Li played brilliantly to level 19-19. However, that was all the 19-year-old player could do, because Tien Minh won the next two points to end the set at 21-19.
Tien Minh celebrates after winning the ticket to the quarter-finals at the Vietnam Open 2019. More importantly, he earns an accumulated 2,110 points in the hunt for a slot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Photo: khampha.vn)
Beating Li 2-0 after 55 minutes, Minh excellently won a ticket to the quarter-finals and accumulated an additional 2,110 points for his 2020 Olympics ticket hunt.
In the quarter-finals taking place at 4 pm today, Tien Minh will encounter the second seed Sourabh Verma (India), ranked 38th in the world. The Vietnamese player has twice defeated his Indian opponent in 2013 (All England) and 2018 (Singapore Open).
While Tien Minh reaching the quarter-finals, the remaining host players all dropped out of the tournament. Minh’s spouse, Vu Thi Trang, lost 1-2 to Zhang Yi Man (world No. 39th), while Nguyen Hai Dang was downed 0-2 by Hsueh Hsuan Yi (Chinese Taipei) and Pham Cao Cuong lost 0-2 to Jun Yan Ng of Malaysia.
The Vietnam Open 2019 takes place from September 10-15, attracting 294 players from 24 countries and territories around the world, competing in five events. The tournament accumulates scores for the 2020 Olympic Games, so it gathered many strong players from the top 40 in the world.