A string of upsets rocked the BCA Indonesia Open today, with title favourites in all categories crashing out.
China and Indonesia suffered the worst reverses, with Lin Dan, Li Xuerui, Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei, Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan (for China) and Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari, Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan and Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (for the hosts) biting the dust.
Respite for the Indonesians came through Women’s Doubles duo Rizki Amelia Pradipta/ Tiara Rosalia Nuraidah and upcoming Men’s Singles prospects Jonatan Christie and Ihsan Maulana Mustofa. Late in the day, local pair Anggia Shitta Awanda/Mahadewi Istirani Ni Ketut surprised Women’s Doubles No.6 seeds Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan of Korea.
The biggest sting for the hosts came in Mixed Doubles, when scratch Danish duo Kim Astrup and singles player Line Kjaersfeldt – partnering after four years – shocked Ahmad and Natsir in straight games, 21-19 21-17.
The Danes were unable to shake off their amazement even after they came off court.
“We hadn’t imagined we could win against this amazing Indonesian pair,” said Astrup.
“This is the first time we’re playing Mixed Doubles at the senior level; we won the European Junior championships six years ago,” said Kjaersfeldt.
“We just played here to have some extra matches in the hall as there is a lot of drift. I can’t remember when I last played a Mixed Doubles match. I think doubles gives a lot of good skills because you need fast reactions. Because I’m used to singles, I think this is a little court for me in doubles.”
Mixed Doubles top seeds Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei weathered an early challenge from home pair Riky Widianto/Puspita Richi Dili 18-21 21-16 21-13 to progress to a quarter-final clash against another Indonesian pair, Alfian Eko Prasetya/Annisa Saufika, who surprised Jacco Arends/Selena Piek (Netherlands) 21-17 21-8.
Late in the day, Men’s Doubles stars Ahsan and Setiawan paid the price for their inconsistency and went down to Denmark’s Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding, 19-21 21-13 21-18, a reversal of their result at the recent Thomas Cup. Ahsan and Setiawan, rather uncharacteristically, betrayed nerves in the close third game, with Ahsan frequently finding the net, while the Danes outdid them in every department.
The remarkable comeback of the other Danish pair, Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen, did not endure beyond the second round. The Danes were stopped by Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda in two close games.
A second Danish pair however made the quarter-finals – Kim Astrup’s stellar form continuing late into the day as he partnered Anders Skaarup Rasmussen to a win over China’s Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan, 21-19 21-19.
Malaysian Women’s Doubles duo Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei (featured image) reached their first World Superseries quarter-final since the Maybank Malaysia Open in 2015, beating home favourites Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari 21-17 21-19.
The second game was close all the way until Polii smashed into the net to give the Malaysians match point, which they converted when a shuttle from Woon struck the tape and fell over.
“We were a bit tense,” admitted Hoo. “We could feel the crowd was with our opponents. “There was pressure on us but we enjoyed the match. The court is quite windy. The focus was on serve-receive and the third shot. Over the last few months, we felt the pressure of having to qualify for Rio, but now that’s done, so we’re just enjoying the game.”
Women’s Doubles World champions Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei weren’t quite their composed selves, falling to Indonesia’s Rizki Amelia Pradipta/Tiara Rosalia Nuraidah 15-21 21-19 21-19. Zhao, usually solid, was a trifle erratic at the end and that gave the Indonesians the window they needed to squeeze through.
Men’s Singles title favourite Lin Dan was well below his combative best against Christie, who had no trouble picking winners at will. The Chinese ambled through the 36-minute rout at the hands of his young Indonesian opponent: 21-12 21-12. Another Indonesian, Ihsan Maulana Mustofa, joined Christie in the quarter-finals, beating China’s Huang Yuxiang in straight games.
Maulana’s quarter-final opponent will be England’s Rajiv Ouseph, who won his second long match, prevailing 11-21 26-24 21-15 over Hong Kong’s Wei Nan after saving two match points in the second game.
China have two more players left in the category: Tian Houwei and Wang Zhengming. Tian held off Germany’s Marc Zwiebler, while Wang dismissed Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen in straight games.
In Women’s Singles, Li Xuerui fell to her third loss in 14 meetings against Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying, 21-18 21-18. The Taiwan player trailed her opponent 11-15 in the first but then ran up a sequence of points to take the first game; she maintained her lead all the way in the second.
In the top half, Spain’s Carolina Marin booked a clash against India’s Saina Nehwal – a rematch of their TOTAL BWF World Championships final last year at the same venue, which Marin won. With Nehwal having triumphed in their last match, at the Dubai World Superseries Finals in December, a fascinating contest could be on the cards.