There was no let-up in surprises on the third day of the Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open today, with strong contenders in Women’s Singles and Mixed Doubles bowing out in the second round.
In Women’s Singles, China’s Li Xuerui (2) and Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara (3) both succumbed – Li to Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying and Okuhara to Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasetsuk.
Mixed Doubles No.3 seeds Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin were outgunned by Thai duo Puavaranukroh Dechapol/Sapsiree Taerattanachai (featured image) a short while after Yonex All England champions Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto ran aground against Singapore’s Danny Bawa Chrisnanta/Vanessa Neo. The biggest surprise perhaps was the second-game capitulation of No.5 seeds Xu Chen/Ma Jin (China) to local duo Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying, 23-21 21-6.
Dechapol and Taerattanachai kept their heads despite fluctuating fortunes against Liu and Bao. The Thais showed spunk throughout the hour-long encounter, with Taerattanachai smashing with power and Dechapol spotting and converting opportunities. Liu and Bao narrowed down a 12-7 lead to within a point at 13-14 in the decider, but the Thais kept their composure and were rewarded. Indeed, it was the Chinese who blew their chances at the end, with Liu serving long and Bao netting a return, before Dechapol sealed the match with a smart winner into an empty corner: 22-20 18-21 21-17.
No.8 seeds Jordan and Susanto were bundled out in quick time by Danny Bawa Chrisnanta/Vanessa Neo. The Singaporeans sealed their quarter-final place with a 21-19 21-14 result in just 33 minutes.
“We’ve had more downs than ups in our career, we just went for it today, there wasn’t anything to lose,” said Neo. “We’ve played a lot of tournaments lately, we’ve gained from the experience. This will give us a boost in confidence. We hope we can make our first World Superseries semi-final.”
Another pair to bite the dust was fifth seeds Xu Chen/Ma Jin, who crashed out to Malaysian duo Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying without a fight in the second game: 23-21 21-6.
Li suffered an uncharacteristic meltdown against Tai. The second seed led 10-4 in the decider, but Tai – playing with the wind – refused to let her opponent get away with a big lead at the break. The Taiwanese unleashed some of her loopy slow drops to catch Li by surprise, and soon was level pegging at 10-all. The rapid comeback by Tai appeared to have worked on Li’s nerves when she crossed over, for the Olympic champion started hitting the shuttle all over the place. Tai took the last 17 points to just six by Li.
“The wind was a bit unpredictable and I think she got worked up by that, I could sense she was rushing her shots at the end. I guess she got nervous,” said Tai Tzu Ying.
Buranaprasertsuk kept up her attacking momentum against a subdued Okuhara and came away a 21-12 22-20 victor.
“I didn’t expect much from today’s match,” admitted the Thai player. “She can rally quite well and I tried to maintain the attack. I wasn’t doing well last year as I’d lost my confidence. I’m feeling better now as my coaches have helped me regain confidence.”
Indonesian Men’s Singles qualifier Jonatan Christie routed Hong Kong veteran Hu Yun 21-13 21-11 to earn a quarter-final against England’s Rajiv Ouseph, who was the beneficiary of a walkover from Yonex-Sunrise India Open champion Kento Momota (Japan). Defending champion Chen Long will face his Chinese compatriot Tian Houwei, while No.2 seed and local hope Lee Chong Wei faces Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen. All England champion Lin Dan will take on Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen.
In Men’s Doubles, China’s Chai Biao/Hong Wei got the better of Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi in a pulsating contest. The Chinese saved no less than seven match points in the second game to post a 18-21 30-29 21-18 win over the Indonesians. Another close contest was between Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Choel and Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong; the Malaysians saved four match points but eventually capitulated 20-22 21-11 22-20.
Young Indonesian Women’s Doubles pair Anggia Shitta Awanda/Mahadewi Istirani Ni Ketut delivered a stunning performance that nearly took down World champions Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei. Having fought on level terms for most of the match, the Indonesians lost their way at the end, bowing to the superior experience and craft of the Chinese, 22-24 21-13 21-17.
Other Chinese pairs to make the quarter-finals were Yu Yang/Tang Yuanting – who battled past Dutch pair Selena Piek/Eefje Muskens, and World Junior champions Chen Qingchen/Jia Yi Fan, who outclassed senior compatriots Huang Yaqiong/Tang Jinhua 24-22 21-11.