Defending Mixed Doubles champions, Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, bid an early “au revoir” to the Yonex French Open 2015 tonight.
The No. 2 seeds were shockingly bounced from the Paris tournament in the first round by unheralded duo, Keigo Sonoda and Naoko Fukuman (featured photo); again failing to convert a first-game advantage into victory for the second time in three days.
Admittedly still recovering from their past week’s exploits in Denmark, where they fell at the last hurdle after being a game up in Sunday’s final, the Indonesian star pair found the going increasingly tough, eventually losing 16-21 21-17 21-13 to the exuberant Japanese whose never-say-die attitude paid off.
Having finished runners-up in Odense two days ago, Ahmad and Natsir would have arrived in the French capital on a reasonable high and with fond memories of lifting the title here in 2014. However, a topsy-turvy 55 minutes changed all that as Sonoda and Fukuman shrugged off the first game and set about their task of dismantling one of this season’s better partnerships.
Evening the score at a game apiece, the underdogs rushed to a 9-2 lead in the decider before Ahmad and Natsir started a stuttering fightback; one which would see them gain a little ground before losing it again. Their best effort, amid an attacking flurry from the Japanese, was a run of points which shrunk the deficit from 14-7 to 15-13 to bring them within two of their rivals.
Alas, that was as close as they got and, in fact, the end of their scoring as the Sonoda-Fukuman express sped to victory with six straight points to register the first shockwaves of this MetLife BWF World Superseries tournament.
“We just kept fighting after the first game and we tried to keep ahead in the score, especially in the third game,” said Fukuman, adding that she was “surprised but happy” to win.
While not making excuses, Natsir stated she and Ahmad had not “fully recovered” from their strong showing in Denmark, noting they expended “a lot of energy in Sunday’s final”.
“We are not happy to lose our title in the first round. The Japanese had more power than us in the end. We are disappointed but we cannot dwell on this,” said the veteran player.
Other top Mixed Doubles pairs avoided a similar fate, with Denmark Open winners, Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na breezing past Wong Fai Yin/Chow Mei Kuan of Malaysia. The Koreans prevailed 21-12 21-12 while No. 3 seeds, Xu Chen/Ma Jin of China beat another Indonesian pair, Edi Subaktiar/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja, 21-10 21-15. Denmark’s Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen; Chris and Gabrielle Adcock of England; and Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah of Hong Kong also progressed to the second round.
Earlier in the day, qualifying action saw the following players or pairs book places in the main draw:
Men’s Singles: Thomas Rouxel (France); Kenta Nishimoto (Japan); Chong Wei Feng (Malaysia) and Wang Tzu Wei (Malaysia).
Women’s Singles: Nitchaon Jindapol (Thailand); Tee Jing Yi (Malaysia); Kaori Imabeppu (Japan); and Hsu Ya Ching (Chinese Taipei).
Men’s Doubles: Liao Min Chun/Tseng Min Hao (Chinese Taipei); Bodin Issara/Nipitphon Puangpuapech (Thailand); Lin Chia Yu/Wu Hsiao-Lin (Chinese Taipei); and Andrew Ellis/Peter Mills (England).
Women’s Doubles: Maiken Fuergaard/Sara Thygesen (Denmark); Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee (Korea) Marie Batomene/Emilie Lefel (France); Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan (Korea).
Mixed Doubles: Mark Lamsfuss/Isabel Herttrich (Germany); Liu Yuchen/Tang Jinhua (China); Kenta Kazuno/Ayane Kurihara (Japan) and Thomas Vallez/Delphine Delrue (France).