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Treesa Jolly-Gayatri Gopichand loses in All England semi-final but takes a lot of positives

Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand’s excellent run at the All England Open Championship came to an end in the semi-final once again, with a lesson in defending but plenty of positives. The only Indians to pass the second round, the women’s doubles pair fell 10-21, 10-21 to Baek HaNa and Lee SoHee in 46 minutes on Saturday.

While this match was largely one-sided, their loss, like the three encouraging wins before this one, will prove to be a significant learning curve for the youngsters.

The in-form pairing of South Korea cleverly targeted the Indians’ all-out attacking game, which is usually a strength. However, when it didn’t work out against the other side’s defensive masterclass, panic set in and he forced a flurry of easy mistakes that hastened the defeat. Baek and Lee kept up the relentless pressure by taking back everything thrown at them, which meant that the Indians tried to finish the points unsuccessfully in most cases.

It’s something they recognized after the game. “We learned a lot from this match. The difference was that they didn’t leave a shuttle and it scared us a bit,” Gayatri said after the match.

Treesa added: “When we played against them, their defense was good, it was better than yesterday. We were in a panic and we didn’t play well, we just kept attacking.”

Baek and Lee had prevailed in a marathon of long rallies against eighth seeds Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti in the quarterfinals a day earlier, but changed tack to play quick points to begin the semifinals. They were quick on blocks and maintained their speed to dominate most of the game. They built a 4-0 lead and extended the margin to 5-11 at the interval after several quick exchanges, shoving their opponents from all sides as they covered their side completely.

The rallies got longer and longer, with a particularly brilliant 40-shot rally featuring Gayatri’s soft hands at the net. The Indians played a couple of good points to cut the margin to 9-13, but they would only earn one more point in the game as a quick charge from the Koreans tested their reaction time and movement.

Coach Mathias Boe and G Arun Vishnu stressed the importance of defense in changing ends, but not much changed as the Koreans continued to make the Indians rush or cross the line.

They held a massive 11-2 lead going into the mid-game interval in the second game and the nerves and pressure were evident in Treesa and Gayatri’s body language. They stopped the one-sided traffic finally with a magnificent net kill from Gayatri and an angled winner from Treesa that should have given them some confidence.

But the margin was too big at that point and when their opponents began engaging in long rallies, picking up and giving up some easy points, the Indians reached double digits. It was never going to be enough though, and they converted the first of their 10 match points after another unforced error by the Indians.

Despite the loss, there is a lot to take home for the young Indians. This is only their second full season on tour and they’ve already cracked the Top 20. Last year, they reached the semifinals after being promoted from the reserves and a walkover, but this year they were one of the in-form pairings and beat two . Top 10 opponents.

A match like this will increase her focus on balancing defense with her aggressive play, always a valuable trait in women’s doubles. It will also help to practice patience under pressure, something that can only be learned on the match court. This is the lens you should look back through this week. “We played against some good players, the confidence was there. So we are looking forward to the next tournaments. We have a lot more to learn. We will come back stronger,” said Treesa.

Next up for them is the Swiss Open and Madrid Masters, both Super 300 events on the European leg of the tour. They will be hoping to continue their strong run of form there, even as their unbeaten streak from February (Asian & National Badminton Mixed Team Championships) came to an end.