Two of the biggest names in the Men’s Singles draw tumbled out in the opening round of the Yonex French Open 2014 yesterday.
Last year’s finalists Kenichi Tago (Japan) and Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark) both crashed out – Tago was dismissed in straight games by India’s Kashyap Parupalli (21-11 21-18) before Jorgensen lost a long battle with fast-improving Chinese Taipei player Chou Tien Chen.
Chou proved a doughty opponent as he recovered from deficits of 11-16 and 17-19 to extend the first game. Although Jorgensen saved three game points, Chou finally converted the fourth to take the lead. With the Dane storming back in the second game, the decider was expected to be a thriller, but Chou ran away to a 6-0 lead and never looked back, taking the match 25-23 9-21 21-15.
The closest Men’s Singles encounter was between Japan’s Kento Momota and India’s HS Prannoy. Momota had handy leads of 18-13 and three match points at 20-17, but Prannoy refused to buckle and made it 20-all. The Japanese left-hander however scrambled home just in time, ensuring a second-round place with a 21-11 15-21 22-20 result.
Momota will face Hong Kong’s Hu Yun, who also survived a three-game battle against Ireland’s Scott Evans, 21-18 20-22 21-15. Former finalist Viktor Axelsen and fellow-Dane Hans-Kristian Vittinghus progressed with straight-game wins, as did Germany’s Marc Zweibler and China’s Wang Zhengming and Tian Houwei.
A much-anticipated Women’s Singles clash did not materialise as Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying handed a walkover to Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi. There was plenty of nail-biting action in the category, however.
One big casualty was India’s PV Sindhu, at the hands of Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk: 12-21 21-18 21-16. Japan’s Minatsu Mitani was nearly upstaged by Commonwealth Games champion Michelle Li (Canada). Mitani led 19-15 in the decider but soon stared at defeat as Li held match point. The Japanese fought back to force a 11-21 21-17 22-20 victory.
Her nemesis Li Xuerui (China, 1) awaits her in the second round. Swiss qualifier Sabrina Jaquet also pulled off a somewhat identical victory over Indonesia’s Adrianti Firdasari. Jaquet saw Firdasari climb back from 16-19 down to hold match point, but was able to win the last three points and record a 21-18 18-21 22-20 victory.
Apart from Li, three other Chinese made the second round: Wang Shixian (2), Wang Yihan (3) and Liu Xin.
Men’s Doubles: China’s Zhang Nan/Fu Haifeng, who won the Denmark Open on Sunday, were ambushed in the first round by Malaysia’s Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong. The Malaysian qualifiers edged through 21-19 9-21 21-19.
Defending champions Markis Kido/Gideon Markus Fernaldi had it surprisingly tough against Philippine qualifiers Philip Joper Escueta/Ronel Estanislao but prevailed 21-17 16-21 21-16. Indian pair Pranaav Chopra/Akshay Dewalkar scored a creditable 23-21 17-21 21-16 win over China’s Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen.
Women’s Doubles: There were no surprises in Women’s Doubles with all the seeded pairs getting into the second round comfortably. No.5 seeds Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting however were kept on court longer than they might have anticipated by Indonesia’s Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth/Rizki Amelia Pradipta during a 21-6 9-21 21-18 victory.
Mixed Doubles: Germany’s Michael Fuchs/Birgit Michels (featured image) recovered from a mid-match setback to beat Thailand’s Maneepong Jongjit/Sapsiree Taerattanachai, 21-15 19-21 21-17. Singapore’s Danny Bawa Chrisnanta/Vanessa Neo too were involved in a three-game thriller against another Thai pair, Nipitphon Puangpuapech/Puttita Supajirakul , 14-21 21-18 21-19.