Thailand savoured a perfect Thursday at the Yonex Open Japan today, winning all their matches and clinching six quarter-finals places in four categories.
Leading the way for Thailand was qualifier Khosit Phetpradab, who ambushed Men’s Singles No.5 seed Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei) 13-21 21-15 21-17.
“I was quite tired from yesterday’s match (against Hong Kong’s Hu Yun), but today it wasn’t so bad,” said Phetpradab, who had come through two qualifying rounds. “This is my first Superseries quarter-finals and I’m very happy. Today I was very confident with my control at the net and tried to work my points from there.”
Thailand created another upset, in Women’s Doubles, when Jonkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajongjai stopped Dutch duo and No.5 seeds Eefje Muskens/Selena Piek 21-18 21-14.
Other Thais to make the quarter-finals were Ratchanok Intanon (Women’s Singles), Sapsiree Taerattanachai/Puttita Supajirakul (Women’s Doubles), Puavaranukroh Dechapol/Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Nipitphon Phuangphuapet/Jonkolphan Kititharakul (Mixed Doubles; featured image).
Phetpradab faces a formidable opponent in the quarter-finals – No.3 seed Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark), who eased past Korea’s Lee Dong Keun.
Jorgensen’s compatriot Viktor Axelsen overcame fierce resistance from India’s HS Prannoy in the second game and breasted the tape in straight games, 21-16 21-19. The Indian was unrelenting in his attack as he climbed back from 7-11 down to catch up at 14. An entertaining spell of badminton followed with several hard-fought exchanges; Axelsen gained the lead but Prannoy caught up once again with a flurry of jump smashes and had a sniff of the second game at 19-18.
The Dane however tightened his game at the right moment, staying patient during a long rally on match point to finally seal his quarter-final spot.
“I think he played really well in the second game and I lost my focus a little bit,” said Axelsen. “I was tired mentally after the Olympics, but I got some rest; it’s time to set new goals. I will focus on this tournament and take it from there.”
Axelsen faces Korea’s Son Wan Ho, who was a comfortable victor over senior compatriot Lee Hyun Il, 21-13 21-8.
Top seed Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) eased past China’s Qiao Bin and faces another Chinese, Shi Yuqi, in the quarter-finals.
Japan’s Women’s Singles players continued to revel in the spotlight, with five local players – Nozomi Okuhara, Akane Yamaguchi, Ayumi Mine, Aya Ohori and Sayaka Takahashi – making the quarter-finals. The only exceptions were China’s He Bingjiao and Sun Yu and Thailand’s Intanon.
In the top quarter, Ayumi Mine overcame Kaori Imabeppu to book a spot against Aya Ohori, who survived a three-game encounter against Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi, 21-17 16-21 21-10.
The bottom quarter will feature last year’s finalists Okuhara and Yamaguchi.
Germany’s Mark Lamsfuss/Marvin Emil Siedel, conquerors of top seeds Chai Biao/Hong Wei (China), couldn’t sustain their momentum against Chinese Taipei’s Lee Jhe-Huei/Lee Yang, 21-9 24-22.
Those who fell included Olympic silver medallists Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong, to China’s Huang Kaixiang/Wang Yilyu, and home stars Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa, to young compatriots Hiroyuki Seki/Ryota Taohata.
Malaysia had better luck in the other two doubles, with Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei (Women’s Doubles) and Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying (Mixed Doubles) making their way into the quarter-finals. Hoo/Woon had to fend off stiff resistance from local pair Miki Kashihara/Miyuki Kato, 19-21 21-16 21-17, earning a place against second seeds Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Denmark).
Chan/Goh were impressive in a 21-13 21-19 result over Dutch pair Jacco Arends/Selena Piek, and will next face Korea’s Kim Gi Jung/Shin Seung Chan.
“We did manage to practice despite all the felicitation programmes,” said Goh, speaking of the receptions the pair received for winning the silver in Rio. “It took time to re-adjust. I think we are carrying our confidence from Rio into this tournament. Of course there is more attention on us now, but we are trying not to pressure ourselves.”
The two Thai pairs progressed in opposite quarters. While Phuangphuapet/Kititharakul overcame China’s Huang Kaixiang/Yu Xiaohan to earn a place opposite top seeds Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na (Korea), Dechapol/Taerattanachai surprised Hong Kong’s Lee Chun Hei/Chau Hoi Wah in the bottom quarter and will next face China’s Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen.