Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam reached their first World Superseries quarter-final in over a year with an upset victory at the Victor Korea Open today.
So sure were the Thai pair of another early exit that they had booked their flights back home for tomorrow. Their last Superseries quarter-final had been the Australian Open in June 2014; this year, a foot injury to Thoungthongkam had put the Mixed Doubles pair out of action for four months. Their second round opponents, China’s Xu Chen and Ma Jin, had beaten them in all eight encounters for the loss of a single game.
Despite the formidable challenge, Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam (featured image) stuck to their task, catching Xu and Ma by surprise with their doughty resistance. Xu had a poor day by his standards, with far too many errors to sustain the pressure on the Thais. The 25-23 15-21 21-18 result helped Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam to a meeting with England’s Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock tomorrow.
“The strategy was to play soft, since the Chinese are comfortable with a quick game. I rarely used the hard smash. Saralee was very good at the net today; she was moving very well. We were lucky. I can’t remember the last time we were in a Superseries quarter-final.”
Koo/Tan Beat Chai/Hong
Men’s Doubles saw Singapore Open champions Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi falling in just 35 minutes to Korea’s Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang (below), 21-19 21-15. Another big surprise was the capitulation of No.5 seeds Chai Biao/Hong Wei to Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong, 21-14 21-12. However, third seeds Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (Denmark) had little trouble against Indonesia’s Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pankaryanira/Ade Yusuf, 21-11 21-14.
In Women’s Singles, a much-anticipated bout fizzled out, with Canada’s Michelle Li (above) unable to contain the aggression and pace of Akane Yamaguchi. After a close first game, it was all Yamaguchi in the second, with Li labouring to find rhythm.
“I played okay, but I didn’t have the fire,” said Li. “For her height, she is a lot faster, she can get the shots back a lot quicker than a lot of players. Every time I hit a shot, I had to expect it to come back no matter how out of position she seemed. I think I’m exhausted. I’ve been away from home for nine weeks now. I want to re-energise myself and get my mind focussed. I feel I’m now just going through the motions.”
With Yamaguchi’s compatriot Sayaka Takahashi beating PV Sindhu (21-16 21-13), it will be an all-Japanese quarter-final. Another Japanese, Nozomi Okuhara, progressed to a showdown with China’s Wang Yihan, who overcame Thailand’s Busanan Ongbumrungpan. Second seed Li Xuerui won an all-Chinese battle against Sun Yu 18-21 21-13 21-9.
Son Wan Ho Powers Past Lin Dan
In Men’s Singles, Son Wan Ho (above) avenged last week’s loss to Yonex Open champion Lin Dan, coming up with a classy performance to enter the quarter-finals.
Other quarter-finalists included Japan’s Kento Mom ota, Hong Kong’s Wei Nan, India’s Ajay Jayaram and China’s Tian Houwei.
It was a slightly uneven show from Lin, who played at a high level game in phases, but errors at key moments gave his Korean opponent the opportunities he sought.
The first game was over in a flash with Lin struggling to control his lifts, but the second had some fascinating phases with Lin showing masterly control over the shuttle. Never using his smash, and relying only on placement, he dragged Son into long rallies which the Korean was unable to get on top of, despite playing a tight game of his own and not offering Lin much to work with. From 3-7, the Chinese went into the lead and Son struggled to keep up.
The game changer happened when Son broke free from the iron grip, extracting a lift with an unplayable net shot and smashing past Lin Dan’s outstretched racket. Soon after, he returned a midcourt smash from Lin and the fight seemed to leave the Chinese. The 21-10 21-15 result will give Son a quarter-final appointment with top seed Chen Long, who dispatched compatriot Wang Zhengming with ease: 21-14 21-17.
“I discussed last week’s match with my coach and made adjustments,” said Son Wan Ho. “I haven’t been consistent this year as I have had some injuries.”
In Women’s Doubles, Australian Open champions Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting got the better of Chinese compatriots Tian Qing/Tang Jinhua to lead their head-to-head 2-1. Ma and Tang prevailed 21-18 10-21 21-13. The closest bout in the category was between China’s Luo Ying/Luo Yu and local hopefuls Go Ah Ra/Yoo Hae Won. The Koreans, who beat Ma/Tang at the last two events, nearly made it past the Luo twins with an 18-14 third game lead. The second seeds however snatched a last-gasp win at 16-21 21-16 22-20. The Luo twins next face Eefje Muskens/Selena Piek (Netherlands; above) who also won a three game battle, over Della Destiara Haris/Rizki Amelia Pradipta (Indonesia) 21-13 14-21 21-12.
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