Mixed Doubles top seeds Xu Chen and Ma Jin (China) exited the All England 2013 quarter-finals today, ambushed by Muhammad Rijal/Debby Susanto of Indonesia.
Xu/Ma, who reached the semi-finals of all 12 events they participated in last year (they won five Superseries and an Olympic silver medal), crashed out to Rijal and Susanto 16-21 21-13 21-18 for the biggest upset on quarter-finals day at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.
Despite their loss, there will be solid Chinese representation in tomorrow’s semi-finals. Rather surprisingly, the Women’s Singles will be the only event without a Chinese player. The last Chinese in the quarter-finals, Wang Shixian (6), was outlasted in a 73-minute battle by Saina Nehwal (India, 2). Nehwal (top left) takes on Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand, 8), who beat Germany’s Juliane Schenk (4) 13-21 21-12 21-8, while Danish veteran Tine Baun (7) will be up against Sung Ji Hyun (Korea, 5).
There was little to choose between Nehwal and Wang but Nehwal eventually prevailed 23-21 19-21 21-16. The match was reminiscent of the Indonesia Open quarter-final last year, when Nehwal needed 96 minutes to overcome Wang. This evening Nehwal again won on the strength of her astonishing retrieval ability. She was particularly brilliant in the forecourt, lunging forward to pick the shuttle inches off the mat as Wang sent steep drops from all angles. A frustrated Wang frequently looked on in despair as her best shots were retrieved by the indefatigable Indian.
In Men’s Singles, Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia, 1) and Chen Long (China, 2) are on course for a climactic showdown, winning their quarter-final matches easily. Two-time All England champion Lee took 34 minutes to power past Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh, 21-17 21-19. Chen Long outgunned the dangerous Kashyap Parupalli (India) 21-16 21-10. Jan O Jorgesen (Denmark) scored his fourth win in eight matches against Chen Jin (China, 5) 21-7 21-14 to make the last four.
However, the surprise package in Men’s Singles has been Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (top right) who has enjoyed a superb run so far. The 22-year-old got through two rounds of qualifying and beat the fancied likes of Hu Yun (Hong Kong) and Sho Sasaki (Japan) before coming up against Tommy Sugiarto (Indonesia) tonight. His impressive 21-17 21-11 win over Sugiarto gives him an appointment with top seed Lee Chong Wei.
• Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa (bottom right) showed the resilience that typified their performances last year in a come-from-behind 16-21 21-12 21-19 victory over Korea’s Kim Ki Jung and Kim Sa Rang. The energetic pair advanced to the Men’s Doubles semi-finals where they meet Maneepong Jongjit and Nipitphon Puangpuapech of Thailand. China’s Qiu Zihan/Liu Xiaolong took just 24 minutes to dispose of Mohd Zakry/Mohd Fairuzizuan (Malaysia) 21-12 21-10.
• Indonesia is assured of featuring in the Mixed Doubles finals as defending champions, Liliyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad meet compatriots, Markis Kido and Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth, in one semi-final. Meanwhile, Indonesian giant killers, Rijal and Susanto, clash with Olympic champs, Zhao Yunlei and Zhang Nan (China), for the other finals spot.
• The Women’s Doubles will see three pairs from China in the semi-finals. Top seeds Yu Yang/Wang Xiaoli (China) face Miyuki Maeda/Satoko Suetsuna (Japan, 6), while Ma Jin/Tang Jinhua (bottom left) take on compatriots, Cheng Shu/Zhao Yunlei.
Text by Dev Sukumar | Badmintonphoto