Two prodigies will clash in the Women’s Singles first round of the Yonex French Open 2014, an event with unpredictable draws in some categories.
Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi breezed through two qualifying rounds to set up an opening round clash against Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying – the player she beat on the way to a historic Japan Open triumph last year. Tai avenged the loss at the Australian Open in June this year, and the stage is set for an intriguing contest.
The amazing Li Xuerui – who has reached the final of every tournament she has played this year – heads the seedings, followed by Chinese compatriot Wang Shixian. Other big names in the draw are Wang Yihan (China, 3), Saina Nehwal (India, 5), Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand, 4), Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (Thailand) and PV Sindhu (India, 8). Intanon in particular will hope to reverse the lack of form she has suffered this year. If she doesn’t fall to a lower seed, she is slated to run into Li in the semi-finals.
The Women’s Singles qualifiers alongside Yamaguchi were France’s Delphine Lansa, Vu Thi Trang (Vietnam) and Sabrina Jaquet (Switzerland). Lansac survived a tough test in the second qualifying round against Bulgaria’s Stefani Stoeva, 12-21 21-16 21-16, and will face Intanon in the first round.
In contrast to Women’s Singles, the Men’s Singles draw appears more open. With the big three names – Lin Dan, Chen Long (China) and Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) – skipping the event, the title is up for grabs among a number of contenders. Third seed Kenichi Tago (Japan) will hope to break his Superseries jinx, but he has a tough first round against India’s Kashyap Parupalli, who too will fancy his chances of going all the way.
Second seed Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark), winner here in 2013, also has a difficult opener against Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen, while compatriot Viktor Axelsen, a past finalist, takes on Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki. Other contenders include Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto, China’s Wang Zhengming, Tian Houwei and Hong Kong’s Hu Yun. India’s HS Prannoy, winner of the Indonesian Masters last month, runs into Japan’s Kento Momota in the opening round – a match that features two potential champions of the future.
Two Chinese – Song Xue and Chen Yuekun – qualified along with Ng Ka Long (Hong Kong) and Dmytro Zavadsky (Ukraine). Chen was taken to three games by Russia’s Vladimir Malkov in the second qualifying round (21-11 13-21 21-13). Zavadsky had a long day at the office – he beat Indonesia’s Andrew Kurniawan Tedjono 17-21 23-21 21-10 before overcoming Estonia’s Raul Must 21-13 10-21 21-7.
Men’s Doubles: Two pairs from Philippines qualified: Philip Joper Escueta/Ronel Estanislao and Peter Gabriel Magnaye/Paul Jefferson Vivas. Malaysia’s Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong ran into unexpected trouble from Germany’s Raphael Beck/Andreas Heinz before pulling through: 21-23 21-16 21-13. Chinese Taipei’s Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin also made the main draw, beating Indonesia’s Alvent Yulianto Chandra/Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki 21-18 21-15.
Women’s Doubles: With four strong Chinese pairs — Bao Yixin/Tang Jinhua (1), Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting (5), Yu Yang/Wang Xiaoli (7) and Luo Ying/Luo Yu — in the draw, it will require an upset of titanic proportions if any other was to end up with the title.
Mixed Doubles: The Russian-Indian combination of Vladimiv Ivanov/Ashwini Ponnappa (featured image) received a walkover into the main draw. The other qualifiers were: Sebastien Vincent/Andrea Vanderstukken (France), Keigo Sonoda/Shizuka Matsuo (Japan) and Bastian Kersaudy/Lea Palermo (France).