The Indian was caught in a contentious battle with one of China’s many promising young players, Zhu Siyuan, in the second qualifying round of Men’s Singles. His greater experience helped him survive three match points and grind out a 18-21 21-19 24-22 result that took an hour. The prize for that hard-fought win will be a first round appointment with compatriot K Srikanth.
“Yes, it will be awkward,” he acknowledged.
“It’s a different feeling when you come on court because we are good friends and we have grown up together. But we are both in the top-50 (rankings), so you cannot avoid each other. After the match we will be all right. I trail him 1-2 in our head-to-head, but I hope I can win tomorrow.”
“He had nothing to lose. Initially, I couldn’t adjust to the court conditions. Yesterday the drift was from another side. I couldn’t judge the speed of the shuttle. I felt the lack of match practice as I had a knee injury after the Commonwealth Games and I pulled out from the European circuit. I trained for just three weeks.
“It was quiet in the stadium, and it’s tough when it’s quiet. Usually in Asia the crowd is noisy. So it’s important to be motivated within. In Hyderabad, we practice at 7 in the morning, and that helps, because there’s nobody to cheer for you at that hour. It’s very important to shout a bit and pump yourself up. That’s what happened in the third game.”
Gurusaidutt was the only non-Chinese to emerge from the qualifying draw – others who qualified were Xue Song, Guo Kai and Gao Huan. Song had it easy over younger compatriot and World Junior champion Lin Gui Pu, 21-16 21-4, while Guo Kai thwarted Youth Olympic Games champion Shi Yuqi (also China), 21-18 21-18. Gao Huan triumphed over Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki 21-13 19-21 21-6. Wong, having been taken the distance in his first qualifying round by Liao Junwei (China), could not outlast Gao.
The Thaihot China Open is the 11th event in the MetLife BWF World Superseries calendar which will culminate in the BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals in December.
The big news in Women’s Singles was the withdrawal of top seed Li Xuerui (China), which enabled compatriot Suo Di to be promoted to the main draw. All the qualifiers were Chinese: Qin Jinjing and Shen Yaying made the main draw without having to play a match, while Chen Xiaoxin beat Simone Prutsch (Austria) 21-14 21-15 in the first qualifying round and then went through to the main draw. Fan Mengyan was stretched 14-21 21-14 21-12 by compatriot Gao Fangjie. Japanese prodigy Akane Yamaguchi, Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Chi Ya and Indonesia’s Millicent Wiranto were also promoted to the main draw.
The only other qualifying round matches were in Mixed Doubles. China saw a couple of minor setbacks: Korea’s Yoo Yeon Seong/Jang Ye Na were victorious over Li Junhui/Tang Yuanting 21-14 22-20 and Singapore’s Chayut Triyachart/Shinta Mulia Sari prevailed over Wang Yilv/Ou Dongni 15-21 21-19 21-17. However, local pair Kang Jun/Luo Ying routed Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Shizuka Matsuo 21-16 21-4. Malaysian-Indian pair Vountus Indra Mawan/Prajakta Sawant beat Chinese Taipei’s Wang Chi-Lin/Cheng Chi Ya 21-18 18-21 21-17.
Li was apparently bothered by a knee injury, although she said it wasn’t serious.
“It happened because of the accumulating pressure on the knee, which already showed some problems during the tournaments in Europe in the past few weeks. I tried practising on this court (Fuzhou), but it didn’t get any better, so to be safe I decided to withdraw from the China Open.”