The Yonex Open Japan 2014 witnessed the exit of two big names today as China’s Lin Dan and Chen Long were toppled in the quarter-finals.
A third high profile exit too looked likely as top seed Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) flirted with danger against Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto, but recovered his poise in time to make yet another BWF MetLife World Superseries semi-final.
Sugiarto had a 0-10 record going into the match against Lee, but the Indonesian appeared to be on the verge of breaking the jinx when he led Lee through the early part of the third game. However, Lee steadily closed the gap, and after the mid-game interval, returned to his assured self. Refusing to get harried, Lee kept up the pressure on Sugiarto, whose touch deserted him as his shots frequently went wide of the lines. The 21-15 12-21 21-17 result gave Lee a date with home hope Kenichi Tago, who too survived a three-setter against Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark, 21-16 16-21 21-13.
On either side of Lee’s victory, two of the biggest names in contemporary badminton crashed out. First it was the turn of second seed Chen Long, who had an unbeaten record (5-0) against Hong Kong’s Hu Yun, but the underdog turned the tables on the second seed late in the second game, and then led all the way in the third to clinch the match 18-21 21-19 21-15.
Sometime later, it was Lin Dan’s turn to taste defeat for the first time in two years. The Olympic and World champion had last lost a completed match in June 2012 at the Thailand Open to Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro. Although Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen is ranked No.3 on the BWF Destination Dubai Rankings list to his opponent’s No.34, and had indeed beaten him at their last match in January 2012, Lin’s enviable match record meant he was one of the title contenders.
After edging past Lin for the first game, Jorgensen (above) was outplayed in the second. The third was close until mid-way, with Lin showing glimpses of his sublime touch and control to get to within a point of his opponent at 16-17. A smash to Lin’s backhand gave Jorgensen a two-point cushion, and that was all he required to step on the pedal. A wild smash from Lin helped the Dane to 19-16; a net-kill gave him match point, and he needed only one opportunity to convert for a 21-19 13-21 21-16 victory.
After her upset of second seed Wang Yihan yesterday, Sayaka Takahashi (Japan) would have been expected to extend her run at her home event. However, the left-hander had to retire in the second game against sixth seed Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei) at 21-19 11-6.
Tai faces China’s Liu Xin, while in the other semi-final, Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun takes on top seed Li Xuerui (China).
* Korea’s Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong overcame some nervous moments against China’s Wang Yilv/Zhang Wen in the first game to eventually cruise home, 21-18 21-13. Lee and Yoo will be up against Indonesia’s Angga Pratama/Ryan Agung Saputra tomorrow. Another Indonesian pair, Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (above), comfortably overcame Malaysia’s Hoon Thien How/Tan Wee Kiong, 21-16 21-19.
* China had a poor day in Women’s Doubles. After top seeds Bao Yixin/Tang Jinhua handed a walkover to Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun/Kim Ha Na, compatriots Ou Dongni/Xiong Mengjing and Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting were outplayed by Japan’s Reika Kakiiwa/Miyuki Maeda and Korea’s Jang Ye Na/Kim So Young respectively.
* Germany’s Michael Fuchs/Birgit Michels (featured image) continued their dream run, taking down third seeds Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na in the quarter-finals, 21-12 22-20. In another match, China’s Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (above) weathered their own rustiness and a strong assault from Indonesia’s Muhammad Rijal/Vita Marissa, 16-21 21-14 21-19.