An extraordinary session of badminton saw Olympic champion Li Xuerui and top seeds Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (left) crash out of the TOTAL BWF World Championships.
It was a disappointing day for Denmark, with No.5 Mixed Doubles seeds Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen and No.10 Men’s Doubles seeds Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding succumbing to their rivals in the third round.
But the upset of the day was that of the Women’s Doubles top seeds from Japan, Matsutomo and Takahashi. The top seeds were undone by rank outsiders, the No.24-ranked Amelia Alicia Anscelly/Soong Fie Cho (featured image), who left them in a daze as they wrapped up the match 21-15 12-21 21-14.
In Women’s Singles, China’s Li, twice runner-up at the World Championships, met her match in PV Sindhu. The lanky Indian, who has suffered a foot injury earlier this year, finished on top after a see-saw battle in which neither player could establish any rhythm.
Both players failed to control the clears, and both made several errors in judgement at the baseline. The match turned into a contest of drives and pushes, and Sindhu was able to establish an early lead in the decider. Although Li caught up, the Indian once again pushed ahead to take the match 21-17 14-21 21-17.
“It is good to come back from the injury and beat a top player,” said Sindhu (below).
“I had the foot injury in February. It took me four months to recover. Today it was a long match. The shuttle was fast and we were not able to judge it, so we tried to play a controlled game. I have two bronze medals from World Championships; this time I hope to get a better one.”
Sindhu’s compatriot Saina Nehwal had her moments of worry against Sayaka Takahashi, but her Japanese opponent failed to capitalise on her chances and the No.2 seed took advantage with a 21-18 21-14 result. Defending champion Carolina Marin (Spain) too had a bumpy ride into the quarter-finals, with an injury scare in the first game and a combative opponent in Chinese Taipei’s Pai Yu Po. Marin came through 21-11 18-21 21-17 and will meet No.7 seed Wang Shixian (China), who eased past Busanan Ongbumrungpan (Thailand) 24-22 21-11.
“Pai Yu Po is a difficult opponent. The conditions too were difficult due to the drift,” said Marin.
“I got a bit scared when I hurt my leg as the same thing happened at the last World Championships. I tried to keep it out of my mind. It wasn’t my best game, but it’s important to win even when you aren’t playing well.”
Men’s Singles second seed Jan O Jorgensen refused to allow Denmark’s dipping fortunes to affect him, as he subdued Son Wan Ho in straight games. After a close first game, Jorgensen blew away the challenge of his dangerous Korean opponent 21-19 21-11. Top seed Chen Long (China), Kento Momota (Japan) and Ng Wei (Hong Kong) too booked their quarter-final spots.
Men’s Doubles saw an upset in the form of Conrad-Petersen/Kolding’s loss to Marcus Ellis/Chris Langridge (left). The England pair face No.3 seeds Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (Indonesia), who fought past Japan’s Kenta Kazuno/Kazushi Yamada 21-16 19-21 21-15.
Indonesia enjoyed a near-perfect day in Mixed Doubles with No.11 seeds Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto upsetting No.5 seeds Fischer Nielsen/Pedersen 22-20 19-21 23-21 after a fluctuating encounter that saw the Danes save two match points and have one of their own before Jordan/Susanto wriggled out of their grasp.
Third seeds Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir eased past Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying 21-8 21-13 to set up a quarter-final with Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na.