Hometown favourite Chen Long today led a strong Chinese procession into the second round of the Li Ning China Masters.
Lanky Dane Viktor Axelsen may have fancied creating an early upset when he snatched the opening game of his first-round encounter against Chen but the top seed subdued him with power and pace. Conceding just 15 points in games two and three of the Men’s Singles match, Chen earned a 20-22 21-7 21-8 victory.
Ironically, the upset of the day was Axelsen’s senior teammate Jan O Jorgensen – the fifth seed lost a drawn-out battle against Hao Jen Hsu (Taipei) in an hour and 14 minutes. Hao triumphed 21-13 14-21 21-19.
Chen Long’s compatriot Chen Jin triumphed easily over India’s Anand Pawar 21-17 21-12. Other Chinese challengers, including world No. 10 Du Pengyu, No. 16 Wang Zhengming and qualifier Zhou Wenlong also advanced to the second round.
However, the day did not go all China’s way. There were some notable losses, especially in Women’s Singles. Former World Champion Wang Lin, Chen Xiao Jia, Yao Xue, and Gao Huan were among the losers. Xiao Jia’s was the longest Women’s Singles match of the day, as Busanan Ongbumrungpan outlasted her in an hour and ten minutes.
Gao Huan, who came through two rounds of qualifying, was stopped by India’s Parupalli Kashyap 21-13 14-21 21-19. Indeed, the world No. 20, who has enjoyed a resurgence in form since the India Open, led a strong Indian showing into the second round. His compatriots Guru Sai Dutt, Ajay Jayaram, Sourabh Verma and PV Sindhu also progressed. Jayaram, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Olympics, upset No.3 seed Kenichi Tago (Japan) 21-13 21-17, while Guru Sai Dutt accounted for former All England champion Hafiz Hashim 21-18 19-21 21-13. Sourabh Verma beat young Malaysian Liew Daren (19-21 21-17 21-12) and Sindhu accounted for Jamie Subandhi (USA) to complete a near-perfect day for India.
Meanwhile, Qiao Bin continued his impressive run. Having won two qualifying matches, including one over the Asian Junior champion Kento Momota, he got the better of compatriot Chen Yuekun 21-10 21-8 in just 38 minutes. He next faces sixth seed Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark.
Chen Long will take on Israeli Misha Zilberman; the latter a surprise winner over Irishman Scott Evans. Another surprise casualty in the first round was veteran Thai Boonsak Ponsana who was defeated by Malaysian Chong Wei Feng in three games.
Meanwhile, in Men’s Doubles, local hopefuls Li Gen/Liu Cheng eased past USA’s Phillip Chew/Sattawat Pongnairat to earn a second-round spot against Malaysian pair Teik Chai/ Soon Hock. Thailand’s Songphon Anugritayawon/Sudket Prapakamol were the luckiest first-round winners, as they received a bye into the quarter-finals, where they will face either Xu Chen/Guo Zhengdong or second seeds Hong Wei/Ye Shen of China.
Text by Dev Sukumar | Badmintonphoto – Yves Lacroix