Thursday, August 13, 2015
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Major upsets in the evening rocked the proceedings at the TOTAL BWF World Championships today.
In keeping with the momentum of the day, which saw a few surprises in the morning, the evening matches too produced unlikely results. China was at the receiving end: in Women’s Doubles, top contenders Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting (6) were outplayed by Korea’s Yoo Hae Won/Go Ah Ra (featured image) and No.2 seeds Luo Ying/Luo Yu edged out by Japan’s Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao. Another Chinese pair, Mixed Doubles No.6 seeds Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong, were also shown the door.
Former Women’s Singles World champion, Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand, 5) exited the tournament after retiring in the third game against local hope Lindaweni Fanetri.
Intanon fought off a spirited challenge from Fanetri in the first game, but if she hoped the Indonesian would cave in in the second, she was mistaken, for Fanetri kept up the high tempo and forced Intanon into long rallies. The physical effort began to tell on the Thai as she received medical attention at 7-2 in the third; shortly thereafter, she fell to the ground and was stretchered out even as the sporting crowd chanted her name.
Another former champion, Wang Yihan (China) looked likely to take an early flight home. Korea’s Bae Yeon Ju played flawlessly for a game and a half to have the No.6 seed under fire, but Wang slowly but surely wriggled her way out from the deficit to level at a game apiece. Bae had no answers left in the third game: 17-21 21-18 21-8.
Wang faces India’s Saina Nehwal, while Fanetri takes on Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying – a 21-15 21-19 winner over Canada’s Michelle Li.
It was the Women’s Doubles that caught the most attention. Yoo and Go played a stunning match filled with blazing smashes, quick counters, and returns that skimmed the top of the net. Ma and Tang, Australia Open champions, appeared flustered and a few uncharacteristic errors helped the Koreans to a big lead at 18-10 in the third game and effectively out of Ma and Tang’s reach: 16-21 21-17 21-14.
Shortly thereafter, China were dealt another blow, this time by Japan. Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao held their nerve in a tight finish to prevail over Malaysia Open champions Luo Ying/Luo Yu 18-21 22-20 21-19. The Japanese next face India’s Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa, who beat Miyuki Maeda/Reika Kakiiwa (Japan, 8) 21-15 18-21 21-19.
India however fell short in Men’s Singles, with both Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy falling in three-game encounters. Srikanth’s match against Hong Kong’s Hu Yun was an absolute cracker, with the third game going neck-and-neck all the way. Srikanth saved two match points but fell on the third: 14-21 21-17 23-21. Hu will be pitted against Lee Chong Wei in the quarter-final; the Malaysian made short work of China’s Wang Zhengming, 21-17 21-19.
Prannoy stretched Viktor Axelsen (below), but the Dane kept his nose ahead in the decider and booked a quarter-final with Chen Long with a 21-16 19-21 21-18 result.
In Men’s Doubles, China’s Liu Xiaolong/Qiu Zihan powered past Malaysia’s Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong 21-18 21-18, while local hopes Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi were just as comfortable against Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda, 21-19 21-17.
Mixed Doubles saw England’s Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock beat Denmark’s Mads Pieler Kolding/Kamilla Rytter Juhl (21-16 16-21 21-10); the Adcocks take on China’s Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin, narrow 21-23 22-20 21-11 winners over Indonesia’s Riky Widianto/Puspita Richi Dili. China saw an upset in this category, with No.6 seeds Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong falling in a thriller to Jacco Arends/Selena Piek (Netherlands), 18-21 26-24 23-21.