Malaysia’s Goh Jin Wei showed she is one to reckon with in future as she gave Akane Yamaguchi plenty to think about in the opening Women’s Singles round of the Dong Feng Citroen Badminton Asia Championships today.
In the clash between former and current World Junior champions, Yamaguchi prevailed 21-16 23-21.
For most of the match, Goh matched Yamaguchi shot for shot, leading to some interminable rallies. With either player lacking the big kill, Yamaguchi (featured image) and Goh explored the spaces round the court, and it was only at the very end that the Japanese could nose ahead of the Malaysian.
“I got nervous towards the end,” admitted Goh. “I’d wanted to prove myself – this is my first senior Asian event. It was very tiring, she was returning everything. The level between the juniors and seniors is so different; the pace is much higher.”
With her Olympic qualification chances hanging by a thread, Porntip Buranaprasertsuk needed an upset over top seed Li Xuerui. The Thai threw everything into her second round Women’s Singles match against the home favourite today, but the top seed produced her best when she needed to and shut the door on her opponent.
Buranaprasertsuk has had an eventful year so far, with wins over the likes of Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara and India’s PV Sindhu and a couple of semi-final finishes in Grand Prix Gold events. At the Yonex-Sunrise India Open, she nearly pulled the rug from under Li Xuerui’s feet, only going down 23-21 in the third game. The Thai needed a similarly combative performance today, but Li Xuerui came up with the goods to thwart her.
Buranaprasertsuk started well, and with quick feet and sharp angles took the first game. The second, though, saw Li at her fearsome best – the angular slices and bursts of pace doing the damage. The Thai made a last-ditch effort in the third, but fell behind and went down 19-21 21-6 21-15.
“I’m not disappointed because I gave my best,” said a philosophical Buranaprasertsuk. “I knew I had to beat her if I hoped to make the qualification. She was just too fast in the second, I just couldn’t match her pace. I’ve played well this season; I have no regrets.”
All the favoured Women’s Singles players, including China’s Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan, India’s Saina Nehwal, Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying and Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, made the second round comfortably.
Among the few surprises of the day was Men’s Doubles third seeds Chai Biao/Hong Wei’s loss to Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda. The Chinese took off in a hurry, and with Kamura and Sonoda unable to effectively counter the big smashes of their opponents, it looked like the local pair was headed for a quick win.
However, the Japanese stayed in the contest with some clever play, denying their opponents the attacking opportunities, and edged past them in a neck-and-neck first game. They carried on with the momentum to seal the contest 27-25 21-17.
The Japanese next face Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong, who fought past Chinese Taipei’s Liao Min Chun/Tseng Min Hao 14-21 21-15 21-13. Also making the second round were Indonesia’s Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo/Markus Fernaldi Gideon, China’s Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen and Hong Kong’s Or Chin Chung/Tang Chun Man.
In Men’s Singles, second seed Lin Dan laboured to a three-game victory over young Indonesian Ihsan Maulana Mustofa, 21-9 14-21 21-19. The home hero had things well under control all the way but relaxed his grip towards the end to give Maulana some hope.
Lin faces fellow-veteran, Nguyen Tien Minh (Vietnam), who rushed past Singapore qualifier Loh Kean Yew 21-17 21-14.
Another young Indonesian, Jonatan Christie, outlasted Singapore’s Derek Wong in a tense three-game match: 24-22 16-21 21-18.
In the top quarter, Hong Kong’s Wei Nan was upset by Zulfadli Zulkiffli, 21-12 17-21 21-18; the Malaysian next faces top seed Chen Long (China), who breezed past Korea’s Jeon Hyeok Jin 21-4 21-16. India’s Kidambi Srikanth’s disappointing year continued, as he was shown the door by Korea’s Lee Dong Keun, 13-21 21-12 21-19. Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk’s campaign also ended, at the hands of Japan’s Takuma Ueda 23-21 21-18.
Women’s Doubles saw Korea’s Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee outclass India’s Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa 21-15 21-11 to book a second round against Sayaka Hirota/Yuki Fukushima and earn an opportunity to seek revenge. The young Japanese duo, who won the Skycity New Zealand Open in March beating Chang/Lee in the final, had it easy over Thailand’s Phataimas Muenwong/Chaladchalam Chayanit, 21-16 21-16.