Has there been a day quite like this, in the Round of 16 at any recent BWF World Championships?
World champions Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai – out. Men’s doubles top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo – out. Women’s singles eighth seed Ratchanok Intanon – out. Men’s singles fifth seed Lee Zii Jia – out. Asian champion Wang Zhi Yi – out. Mixed doubles seventh seeds Thom Gicquel/Delphine Delrue – out.
Coupled with Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong‘s close shave, against upcoming Thai pair Supak Jomkoh/Supissara Paesampran, it was clearly the day of the underdog.
Not all of these results were total surprises. Gideon/Sukamuljo’s form, for instance, was under a cloud as Gideon had spent time recovering from ankle surgery. Yet, the manner in which some of the favourites capitulated was cause for surprise.
Defending champions Puavaranukroh/Taerattanachai looked rather listless in their 38-minute loss to Mark Lamsfuss/Isabel Lohau, while French seventh seeds Gicquel/Delrue had a nightmarish second game, falling 21-4 to Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Lai Jemie. Ratchanok Intanon, who was favourite against Michelle Li with a 6-1 record, faded away in the third game, 21-13.
An inspired Michelle Li declared she was “going for a medal”.
“I’ve always seen her style and I know all of her strengths. But playing her, a lot of times I’ve been struggling with my movement. This time I was more confident in my movement and my body condition. So it was easier for me to focus more on tactics rather than just chasing her shuttles.
“It feels amazing. It’s my first time in the quarterfinals at a World Championships. I want to get a medal. I want to make the semis, I want to do my best. I have one more match to go, I feel good.”
Another big name to fall in women’s singles was Wang Zhi Yi, who was outplayed by compatriot Han Yue in a surprisingly one-sided contest, 21-11 21-13.
Lee Zii Jia was the most high-profile casualty in men’s singles on the day, as the Malaysian fell in a close third game to Zhao Jun Peng, 21-19 11-21 21-19.
Two-time world champions Zheng and Huang were close to exiting the event as well, as they trailed 14-17 to Jomkoh and Paesampran, but the top seeds as usual gave nothing away and came away victorious at 21-9 19-21 21-19.