Top seeds Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong’s title-winning streak came to an abrupt end in the second round of the Thaihot China Open 2015 today.
The defending champions, winners of the last four World Superseries events, were shocked by young Chinese pair Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (featured image) 18-21 21-18 23-21.
Li and Liu’s exploits were in keeping with a sensational day for young Chinese hopefuls. Men’s Doubles World champions Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan were earlier shown the door by another emerging pair, Zhang Wen/Wang Yilv, in three games. In Men’s Singles, Youth Olympic Games champion Shi Yuqi made the Men’s Singles quarter-finals beating Korea’s Lee Dong Keun, while in Women’s Doubles, Ou Dongni/Huang Dongping stopped No.7 seeds Selena Piek/Eefje Muskens (Netherlands), 21-13 21-16.
But the biggest upsets were in Men’s Doubles. Lee and Yoo appeared to have escaped out of a hole when they saved three match points and held one of their own, but Li and Liu refused to let go and scrambled home on their fourth opportunity. Wang Yilv/Zhang Wen had it easier against the reigning World champions; they recovered from a first game loss to win the next two 21-11 21-14.
Li/Liu take on another Korean pair, Shin Baek Choel/Ko Sung Hyun, while Wang/Zhang face Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa in the quarter-finals. The other two matches will see Hirokatsu Hashimoto/Noriyasu Hirata (Japan) against Chai Biao/Hong Wei (China) and Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang (Korea) against Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (Denmark).
China showcased its traditional strength in Women’s Doubles with four pairs making the quarter-finals. Last year’s champion Yu Yang, paired with Tang Yuanting this time, eased past Victor Korea Open champions Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari (Indonesia) 21-10 21-16 to book a place against compatriots Ou Dongni/Huang Dongping. World champions Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei face No.2 seeds Luo Ying/Luo Yu in another quarter-final. The only reverse for China in this category was the loss of Tang Jinhua/Zhong Qianxin to Korea’s Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee, who next face Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl. Top seeds Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Japan) made the quarter-final against young Malaysians Amelia Alicia Anscelly/Soon Fie Cho, who upset Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan 21-18 21-19.
Defending champion Saina Nehwal struggled into the Women’s Singles quarter-finals, but her Indian compatriot PV Sindhu fell in a cracker of a contest.
Sindhu’s three-game match against local hope Wang Shixian was one of the highlights of the day, with Wang emerging victorious after a bruising 88 minute-battle, 18-21 21-18 21-16.
Nehwal was taken the distance by Malaysia’s Tee Jing Yi. Groin trouble had reportedly affected Nehwal in Denmark and France, but she said it wasn’t so much the injury as her trouble in reading Tee Jing Yi’s shots.
“She’s a tricky player to read; she plays the crosscourt and down-the-line with the same action,” Nehwal said. “I’ve started working on my injury with a trainer, but it’s too early to say whether it’s working.”
Sindhu’s match against Wang Shixian was as fiercely contested as fans might have anticipated. The Denmark Open runner-up started off brilliantly, with pace, power and anticipation as she defanged Wang’s best shots.
But with Wang working her way back with typical grit, the match was poised on the edge all through. Sindhu made the critical error by serving into the net with the end in sight; it was the kind of day when such mistakes would not go unpunished. Shixian was accompanied into the quarter-finals by her teammates Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan – Li faces Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun while Wang Yihan takes on Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying.
In Men’s Singles, China’s Chen Long and Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen set up their fourth meeting this year with contrasting victories. While Chen was unflustered during his 21-5 21-8 demolition of Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen Hao, Axelsen had his edgy moments against Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki before snatching a 21-14 19-21 21-19 victory.
Other big guns Lin Dan (China) and Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) also progressed. Young Chinese qualifier Shi Yuqi, who beat Korea’s Lee Dong Keun 21-19 21-16, faces Son Wan Ho, who had an unexpectedly easy path over Japan’s Kento Momota, 21-15 21-14.
Meanwhile, in Mixed Doubles, the run of Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na, winners of three titles in a row, ended with defeat to Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto in a three-game thriller, 15-21 21-11 21-16. Jordan/Susanto face defending champions Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei next.
The big surprise in this category was the loss of No.8 seeds Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong (China) to Denmark’s Niclas Nohr/Sara Thygesen, 21-14 21-17. The Danes take on No.3 seeds Xu Chen/Ma Jin, also of China.