Defending Women’s Singles champion Ratchanok Intanon’s red-hot victory streak finally ended today at the hands of Japan’s Sayaka Sato in the second round of the Dong Feng Citroen Badminton Asia Championships yesterday.
The Thai, winner of three straight Superseries – in India, Malaysia and Singapore – finally ran out of gas as she ran into a determined opponent. Intanon’s weariness was obvious by the third game, and although she fought gamely, Sato pulled ahead comfortably in the end: 17-21 21-16 21-17.
“I didn’t want to stress over my performance here,” said the Thai. “I’ve won three Superseries in a row; my main aim while coming here was to try and maintain my form and to learn as much as possible. I need more time to improve myself.”
Young Men’s Doubles duo Markus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo’s impressive recent form continued as they entered the quarter-finals.
The young Indonesians (featured image) prevailed in a battle between two Men’s Doubles pairs that have won World Superseries titles this season. Yonex-Sunrise India Open champions Gideon and Sanjaya shrugged off the loss of the opening game and got the better of Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open winners and No.7 seeds Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang 13-21 21-19 21-16.
The Indonesians will be up against Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda, who snuffed out Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong 21-13 21-18.
Among the surprises of the day was the abrupt loss of World champions Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan to young Chinese Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen. The Indonesians were totally off-colour, committing a series of errors to go down 15-21 21-15 21-13.
However, other favoured pairs, such as Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong (Korea), Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan (China) and Ko Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Cheol (Korea) advanced into the quarter-finals.
Women’s Singles saw a couple of exciting battles, with Li Xuerui and Tai Tzu Ying getting out of trouble against Akane Yamaguchi and PV Sindhu respectively.
Home favourite Li was under plenty of pressure from the quick moving Yamaguchi, who, covered up her shortcomings magnificently. Having fallen victim to Li’s attacking repertoire in the first game, Yamaguchi adjusted well and prevented the top seed from dominating the exchanges. With the Japanese getting the better of her in the rallies, Li appeared distinctly uneasy.
Yamaguchi however undid all her good work with her over-reliance on the high serve, which let her down at critical moments. Apart from a couple that landed wide, a high serve at 19-18 invited a razor sharp smash from Li, and the match was lost from there, 21-16 18-21 21-19.
“Li is very good at the net, so I thought it was worth the risk to serve high to her and keep her at the back,” said Yamaguchi. “At 19-18, the serve was a little bit short and she got the smash winner.”
Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying looked out of sorts until halfway in her match against India’s Sindhu, pulling herself up only when she was down 8-14 in the second. She levelled at 15, saved one match point, and breezed past a disappointed Sindhu in the third: 13-21 22-20 21-8. Li and Tai face off in the quarter-finals, while Sayaka Sato meets Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, an easy winner over Hong Kong’s Yip Pui Yin.
In Men’s Singles, Korea’s Lee Dong Keun, who has a shot at qualifying for Rio, overcame Hong Kong’s Hu Yun 21-11 17-21 21-14 and will face No.2 seed Lin Dan. Other quarter-finalists included Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen and Wang Tzu Wei, Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto and Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei.
Korea’s Jung Kyun Eun/Shin Seung Chan survived a close battle against Japan’s Shizuka Matsuo/Mami Naito. The Koreans saved a match point before taking the match 21-11 18-21 24-22 in 99 minutes. Jung/Shin run into familiar rivals Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari, who needed three games to overcome Malaysia’s Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei 18-21 22-20 21-11.
Top seeds Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi were engaged in a battle of marathon rallies against China’s Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan before edging past their doughty opponents, 22-20 21-18. The top seeds face Thailand’s Puttita Supajirakul/Sapsiree Taerattanachai, who overcame Indonesia’s Della Destiara Haris/Rosyita Eka Putri Sari with ease.
China suffered a blow in Mixed Doubles when Liu Cheng pulled up with back injury early into his Mixed Doubles encounter against Thailand’s Bodin Issara/Savitree Amitrapai. Another Chinese pair, Xu Chen/Ma Jin, were listless in a quick loss to Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir, 21-12 21-16.
In the top quarter, Korea’s Kim Gi Jung/Shin Seung Chan upset Yonex All England champions Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto (Indonesia) 21-17 22-20 to set up a match against home favourites Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei. Korea had a profitable day in the category, with Choi Solgyu/Eom Hye Won, Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na and Shin Baek Cheol/Chae Yoo Jung, also making the quarter-finals.