Barely two days after summiting a mountain, India’s Pusarla V Sindhu stumbled at the first roadblock in the Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open 2017 today.
The afternoon session of day 2 had misery in store for home fans, as two of their three Olympic silver medallists fell in the opening round. Men’s Doubles pair Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong and Mixed Doubles duo Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying crashed out, denting Malaysia’s hopes of a big haul at their home Superseries Premier event.
With the applause from her Yonex-Sunrise India Open victory on Sunday yet to subside, Pusarla would have been expected to do an encore. That was not to be as she was tripped by World Junior champion Chen Yufei (China; featured image) in the Women’s Singles opening round this afternoon: 18-21 21-19 21-17.
The sixth seed held the lead all the way in the second but lost her way at the very end. With her energy levels visibly dipping, Pusarla was unable to play her forceful attacking game in the third, and Chen craftily kept the long rallies going to frustrate her opponent.
The Indian though refused to blame fatigue for the defeat: “It was a good game overall. I made some unforced errors in the second game; I had my chance to finish it in straight games. Then I gave her a lead in the beginning of the third.
“She played well; there were a lot of long rallies. I couldn’t control the shuttle on a couple of big points. It wasn’t that I was tired after the India Open; I was ready for the Malaysia Open. It was her day today. She’s a good player, she’d taken me to three games in Macau last year.”
Chen faces local hopeful and former World Junior champion Goh Jin Wei, who won a match of marathon rallies against Indonesia’s Susanto Yulia Yosephin 21-15 20-22 21-17.
Chen’s compatriot and eighth seed He Bingjiao crashed out in surprisingly tame fashion to Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi 21-13 21-12. Another prominent casualty was India’s Saina Nehwal, who faded out in the third game against Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi.
Men’s Doubles top seeds Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong were outplayed by Hong Kong’s Or Chin Chung/Tang Chun Man.
The match, played at a searing clip and without any let-up in intensity, saw Or and Tang grab all the half-chances that came their way, as the two left-handers attacked fearlessly and kept the Malaysians under pressure. Uncharacteristically, it was Tan Wee Kiong who frequently faltered, with a few critical errors in the second game preventing the Malaysians from capitalising on their openings. Or and Tang saved two game points before converting their first match point: 21-17 23-21.
The Hong Kong duo take on Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan/Rian Agung Saputro, narrow winners over Ahsan’s former partner Hendra Setiawan and Malaysia’s Tan Boon Heong, 21-10 15-21 21-19.
In Mixed Doubles, all four Chinese pairs made the second round. Top seeds Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen led the way, beating Japan’s Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino despite spirited resistance from their opponents: 21-17 21-15.
Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong, Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping and Zhang Nan/Li Yinhui followed Zheng/Chen into the second round.
Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying failed to convert their chances as they went down to Indonesia’s Edi Subaktiar/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja. The Malaysians were a trifle indecisive at crucial moments – Goh later claimed a right arm injury had affected her – and the Indonesians walked away victorious at 18-21 21-19 21-17. Two other Indonesian pairs – Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir and Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto – too made the second round.
Malaysian spearhead Lee Chong Wei however made no mistake as he made the second round of Men’s Singles past England’s Rajiv Ouseph (21-16 21-18). Old rival Lin Dan (China) also progressed in the lower half of the draw, needing three games to get past a spirited Sai Praneeth (India), 18-21 21-19 21-18.