Nehwal, Okuhara Progress – CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2017: Day 2

Two Women’s Singles seeds lost high-profile opening round battles in today’s evening session at the CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2017.

Spain’s Carolina Marin and Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun have both been consistent this season, but today they faced difficult opening round opponents. Second seed Marin lost her way early against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara but fought back gallantly. Her effort was to prove inadequate, however, as the Spaniard, champion here in 2015, narrowly fell short 21-12 21-19.

Marin joined No.4 seed Sung Ji Hyun out of the event – the Korean having fallen to her earliest World Superseries exit since November last year. Sung, finalist last week in Indonesia, was all at sea against defending champion Saina Nehwal (India), who powered past her 21-10 21-16.

“My ranking has dropped; I have to face top players in the first round,” said Nehwal. “I have the game, I just need to get these matches. My condition is not at its best. In the second game my stamina was coming down, but I still managed to pull it out. Beating Sung 10 and 16 means I have played well today. I didn’t expect to cross the first round, now I’m looking forward to the next one. I haven’t looked at the draw, so I have no idea who I’m playing next.

“My feel was good, the smashes were sharp. She was getting to the net quickly and keeping it tight at the net.  I had to be alert for that. She’s also very smart rally player. I’m surprised to beat her with this score. I’m quite happy.”

Nehwal’s compatriot Pusarla V Sindhu also progressed – stopping BCA Indonesia Open winner Sayaka Sato in a tense match, 21-17 14-21 21-18.

Pusarla admitted to succumbing to nerves in the second game before pulling herself together.

“I was confident in the second game but I made a few mistakes and then I got nervous,” Pusarla said. “I didn’t know what to do, nothing was going right. I was blank when she got the 17-13 lead. She was ahead early in the third game as well. My coach asked me to forget about my mistakes and to focus on the third game. There were a lot of rallies in the third and I managed to catch up with her.”

Top seed Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei) booked her second round place against Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, while another in-form player, Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, also eased into the second round, where she will face Singapore qualifier Yeo Jia Min.

Women’s Doubles fifth seeds Shin Seung Chan/Jung Kyung Eun lost a close battle to China’s Bao Yixin/Tang Jinhua 21-17 21-18; Bao/Tang will take on compatriots Huang Yaqiong/Yu Xiaohan in the second round.

Japan had a good day with their four pairs progressing. Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao had the stiffest test of the four, getting past Thailand’s Puttita Supajirakul/Sapsiree Taerattanachai 21-16 21-16.

Men’s Doubles saw a surprise result, with young Indian pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty beating Hong Kong’s Law Cheuk Him/Lee Chun Hei 20-22 21-19 21-11.

The Indians take on Chinese Taipei’s Wang Chi-Lin/Chen Hung Ling in the second round.

Second seeds Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen had a few hiccups in overcoming the challenge of Denmark’s David Daugaard/Mathias Christiansen, but the Chinese duly completed the task in 43 minutes: 21-18 23-21.

Click here for results

Teen Topples Marin – Day 2: BCA Indonesia Open 2017

A Chinese teenager who had, until now, done nothing remarkable in the top flight, derailed World and Olympic champion, Carolina Marin, in today’s opening round of the BCA Indonesia Open 2017.

Facing a situation in which more experienced players have crumbled on countless occasions, Chen Xiaoxin (featured image) simply refused to be beaten, producing a stunning 21-12 10-21 22-20 upset of the No.2 seed at Jakarta Convention Center this evening.

When Marin rebounded from the loss of the first game to level the battle and prompt a decider, there could hardly have been a fan who did not expect the usually clinical Spaniard to motor into the second round, leaving Chen behind her. That familiar scenario certainly appeared to be unfolding as Marin carved out leads of 13-8, 14-10 and 18-15 – but somehow she could not shake off her 19-year-old opponent who kept finding a way back into reckoning.

At 20-18, two match points also came and went as Chen sped past the left-hander with four unanswered points to clinch a memorable success.

The outcome bore echoes of Marin’s recent, if unusual, fragility in tense circumstances. In Malaysia, the 23-year-old had rapidly receded into Tai Tzu Ying’s rear-view as the current leading lady of Women’s Singles seized control of the decider in a gripping final. A week later in Singapore, Marin melted down uncharacteristically against Tai again. Her steely resolve which had been the hallmark of her rise to fame, her back-to-back World titles and her Rio 2016 coronation was once more glaringly absent – and now today’s shocker versus the world No.33 player.

Despite post-match comments about drift in the makeshift badminton venue and the “shuttle being impossible to control”, she acknowledged all players have to deal with the same conditions, adding she will have to shrug off this setback and prepare for next week’s leg of the MetLife BWF World Superseries tour in Sydney, Australia.

Meanwhile, India’s Saina Nehwal hinted at returning to her best form as she savoured a fine victory over the ever-dangerous Ratchanok Intanon.

Having suffered fluctuating fortunes since knee surgery last summer, the 27-year-old marked another milestone in her comeback. Having been reeled in after holding an early advantage in the first game, Nehwal fought back in the second before dominating the third to prevail 17-21 21-18 21-12. More than the win itself, the Indian ace was pleased with how she played.

“I am really happy to be improving. I want to focus and to get more strength in my legs. Today I could lunge and move properly. I was still having some problems last week and I wasn’t confident about my movement,” disclosed Nehwal.

A fatigued Intanon lauded her rival’s movement, stating it was better than hers and better than how the Indian moved during the recent SCG Thailand Open 2017.

Another result that raised some eyebrows was the defeat of World Junior champion, Chen Yufei, by 17-year-old Indonesian Gregoria Mariska Tunjung. The latter outlasted the promising Chinese, 17-21 21-19 21-19, exacting revenge for her loss to Chen in the final of last season’s Asian Junior Championships. Tunjung gets a crack at world No.1, Tai Tzu Ying, in the second round as the Chinese Taipei top seed breezed through 21-8 21-12 against Japan’s Minatsu Mitani.

More ‘Six-cess’ for Tai? – Day 1: BCA Indonesia Open 2017

On the eve of starting her title defence in Jakarta – and seeking a sixth straight Superseries victory – the dominant force in Women’s Singles, Tai Tzu Ying, has admitted she is “very surprised” at her seven-month unbeaten streak.

Speaking to media ahead of the BCA Indonesia Open 2017, the world No.1 also provided some insight into how she has become the battle-hardened star performer who is the talk of the badminton world – and perhaps the envy of her peers.

“It’s not every time that I can perform well but, when I am doing badly or my confidence is low, I try to adjust quickly and pull myself together,” she said.

“I don’t make too many demands of myself or set my expectations too high. I just keep fighting my hardest. I will try to do the same here.”

Clearly it’s a strategy that’s working for the popular Chinese Taipei athlete on the cusp of her 23rd birthday next week.

Undefeated since the THAIHOT China Open 2016 semi-finals in November – when China’s Sun Yu beat her 21-8 23-21 – Tai begins the quest to retain her Indonesia Open title versus a tricky opponent, Minatsu Mitani, The Japanese has savoured her fair share of success against higher-ranked rivals and will be aiming to do the same in the first round at Jakarta Convention Center where the tournament is being held this year due to renovations at Istora Senayan. Last year at the famed badminton venue, a steely Tai dropped just one game – versus another Japanese, Nozomi Okuhara, in the quarter-finals – en route to the Indonesian championship. She certainly earned it the hard way, cutting down China’s ‘Big Three’ – Li Xuerui, Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan in the final.

Her stiffest Superseries test this season has come from a resurgent Carolina Marin and, with the Olympic and World champion keen to upgrade from the runner-up fates she endured for three weeks in a row, fans will be eager to see what the next instalment of this simmering rivalry brings. At the far poles of the draw, Tai and Marin can only clash in the final which would be their third in this year’s five Superseries events so far.

“I am feeling very good and I will try to win here. I know it’s going to be very difficult but, if I play 100 per cent, I think I can get a good result,” said the Spaniard who will be aiming to give herself a belated birthday gift after turning 24 this Thursday.

“I am looking forward to playing here. It’s one of my favourite tournaments. I have so many fans here and I look forward to their support.”

MORE TO COME

QUALIFIERS TO THE MAIN DRAW

Men’s Singles: Zhao Junpeng (China); Emil Holst (Denmark): Chong Wei Feng (Malaysia); and Kazumasa Sakai (Japan).

Women’s Singles: Michelle Li (Canada); Natalia Koch Rohde (Denmark); Gregoria Mariska Tunjung (Indonesia); and Lee Jang Mi (Japan).

Men’s Doubles: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty (India); Calvin Kristanto/Bagas Maulana (Indonesia); Akbar Bintang Cahyono/Giovani Dicky Oktavan (Indonesia); and Hendra Setiawan (Indonesia)/Tan Boon Heong (Malaysia).

Women’s Doubles: Agatha Imanuela/Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti; Dian Fitriani/Nadya Melati; Yulfira Barkah/Meirisa Cindy Sahputri; and Serena Kani/Jauza Fadhila Sugiarto (all Indonesia).

Mixed Doubles: Liu Yuchen/Tang Jinhua (China); Irfan Fadhilah/Weni Anggraini (Indoneisa); Fachryza Abimanyu/Bunga Fitriani Romadhini (Indonesia); and Do Tuan Duc/Pham Nhu Thao (Vietnam).

Indonesia Reignites Superseries!

Fans are revving up for the resumption of the MetLife BWF World Superseries tour next week with one of the calendar’s most popular – and definitely most noisy – tournaments: the BCA Indonesia Open 2017!

This season, however, the decibel level will be fever pitch, not at the accustomed Istora Senayan, but at the Jakarta Convention Center as the regular venue is undergoing refurbishment ahead of next year’s Asian Games.

Nonetheless, when badminton’s big guns reignite ther battle in the Indonesian capital, they will be zeroing in on the top eight spots to enhance their qualification chances for the the Dubai World Superseries Finals. The season’s eight highest-ranked singles players and doubles pairs will compete in the desert showdown for a share of the US$1million jackpot from 13-17 December this year.

In Men’s Singles, Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei) leads the standings after four out of 12 events, followed by Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. Chinese superstar, Lin Dan; Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong; Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Thailand); Wong Wing Ki (Hong Kong) and young Chinese ace, Shi Yuqi, round out the top contenders in that order.

Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying – riding a wave of unprecedented success – has been victorious in three of the four Superseries events held this season so far, to sit atop Women’s Singles in the Destination Dubai Rankings. Unbeaten since last November in Hong Kong, Tai has won five Superseries in succession; with only the India title eluding her as she did not compete in Delhi.

Close on her heels is Carolina Marin, with Spain’s Olympic gold medallist having been runner-up three weeks on a stretch in India, Malaysia and Singapore. The consistent Sung Ji Hyun of Korea is third overall, thanks to semi-final runs in every Superseries this season.

Akane Yamaguchi (Japan), Pusarla V Sindhu (India), Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand), Nozomi Okuhara (Japan) and Sun Yu (China) round out the elite eight.

Men’s Doubles supremos, Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo/Marcus Fernaldi Gideon (featured image), will enjoy deafening support when they take to home court next week. Having blazed to the top of the podium in three Superseries this season, the Indonesians head the standings followed by China’s twin towers, Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen, and Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda of Japan.

Another Indonesian pair – Angga Pratama and Ricky Karanda Suwardi – are in fourth place, with Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding (Denmark), Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong (Malaysia), Bodin Isara/Nipitphon Phuangphuapet (Thailand) ranking fifth to seventh respectively. Meanwhile, Denmark’s evergreen masters, Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark, have moved into reckoning with their victory in the OUE Singapore Open 2017 to be in eighth position currently.

YONEX All England Open 2017 champions, Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee, are the leaders of the Women’s Doubles pack. Having starred in Korea’s recent Sudirman Cup success, they will be keen to continue their strong form in Jakarta. Their compatriots, Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan are in third place but the big headline in this category is that Japan has four pairs in the top seven of the Destination Dubai Rankings!

Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open champions Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota are in second place. These Japanese came of age rapidly this season, with a quarter-final in Birmingham, followed by a semi-final in Delhi, before winning in Kuching. Their team-mates, Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao, are in fifth while another Japanese pair, Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto – champions in their first Superseries final in India – are sixth. Japan’s Rio 2016 gold medallists, Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi are seventh, having lost their only Superseries final this season  (Singapore) to Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl who are fourth overall. China’s recently-paired Huang Yaqiong/Tang Jinhua are beginning to make inroads and sit in eighth at the moment.

Huang Yaqiong’s name has featured prominently in Mixed Doubles though, as she and partner, Lu Kai, have reached all four Superseries finals – capturing three of them. They are comfortably ahead of the competition in the Destination Dubai Rankings, with Chinese peers, Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen, who defeated them in the Kuching finale, currently in second place. The blossoming partnership of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai has been reaping handsome rewards and the Thai tandem are third in race for the desert classic.

England’s Adcock household – Chris and Gabby – are fourth with Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying in fifth. The remainder of the top eight is completed by Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen (Denmark); Olympic gold medallists, Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Indonesia); and Korea’s upcoming duo, Choi Solgyu/Chae Yoo Jung – fresh from clinching the Sudirman Cup for their country.

The BCA Indonesia Open 2017 will be followed by the CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2017 in Sydney. These two events will bring the MetLife BWF World Superseries to its halfway mark and fans will get a better picture of how fortunes are shaping up. Exciting times and more surprises are certainly ahead with stops in Japan, Korea, Denmark, France, China and Hong Kong in the second half of the season.

Top Guns Confirm Places

The stage is set for some high-profile clashes at the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 in Glasgow with most of the top qualifiers confirming their entries.

In Men’s Singles, gladiatorial contests between the likes of Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia; featured image), China’s Lin Dan and Chen Long, and Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and Jan O Jorgensen are on the cards as the top qualifiers in Phase 1 of the eligibility list have accepted their invitations.

Among the other top Men’s Singles qualifiers are Son Wan Ho (Korea); Shi Yuqi and Tian Houwei (China); Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei); Ng Ka Long, Wong Wing Ki and Hu Yun (Hong Kong), and Ajay Jayaram, Kidambi Srikanth and Sai Praneeth (India).

Phase 1 having concluded on Thursday 11 April, invitations have been sent to other eligible players under Phase 2 that will conclude on Thursday 25 April. Among the beneficiaries in the Phase 2 invitation list is Denmark’s Anders Antonsen. If his invitation is accepted by Badminton Denmark, the European Championships runner-up would join his compatriots Axelsen, Jorgensen and Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in the competition. A member association can field four players if they are within the top 8 of the rankings on the eligibility date in Phase 1, or if places open up due to other eligible players declining their invitations in Phase 2. An MA cannot exceed four entries in any category.

A few eligible players in all categories have declined their invitations mainly due to the Southeast Asian Games (in Kuala Lumpur) and the Summer Universiade (in Taipei) which coincide with the World Championships.

In Men’s Singles, some of the prominent names who have declined invitations are Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei and Hsu Jen Hao; Korea’s Lee Hyun Il; Thailand’s Khosit Phetpradab; Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh and Singapore’s Derek Wong.

Women’s Singles

World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying, who has been on a run of six straight title victories, will not be contesting the World Championships as she has declined the invitation to compete in the Summer Universiade in her homeland.

Nevertheless, Women’s Singles boasts a very competitive category, with the likes of two-time champion Carolina Marin (Spain); India’s Pusarla V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal; Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun; Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon; Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, Nozomi Okuhara and Aya Ohori; and China’s Sun Yu, He Bingjiao and Chen Yufei accepting their invitations.

Men’s Doubles

In-form pair Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Indonesia) lead a star cast in Men’s Doubles. Indonesia have confirmed their three pairs – Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi and Muhammad Rian Ardianto/Fajar Alfian being the other two.

Similarly, three Chinese, Danish and Japanese pairs each have confirmed their participation.

Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov; Chinese Taipei’s Yang Po Han/Lu Ching Yao; Olympic bronze medallists Chris Langridge/Marcus Ellis and Hong Kong’s Or Chin Chung/Tang Chun Man are all headed to Glasgow as well.

Women’s Doubles

Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi lead a strong Japanese charge that includes Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao and Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto.

China too will be represented by three pairs: Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan, Luo Ying/Luo Yu and Li Yinhui/Huang Dongping.

Indonesia’s fourth-ranked pair Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari have received an invitation for Phase 2. If they accept, they will accompany compatriots Mahadewi Istirani Ni Ketut/Anggia Shitta Awanda and Rosyita Eka Putri Sari/Della Destiara Haris.

Denmark’s two pairs have accepted: Olympic silver medallists Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Sara Thygesen/Maiken Fruergaard, while fellow Europeans, Bulgaria, will field Stoeva sisters Gabriela and Stefani.

Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei and Lim Yin Loo/Yap Cheng Wen will be the two pairs doing duty for Malaysia, while Australia can look to Gronya Somerville/Setyana Mapasa.

Mixed Doubles

Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong have been in blazing form this year, and the duo are part of a strong Chinese line-up that includes Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen and Zhang Nan/Li Yinhui.

Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na, who have been out of action this year, have confirmed their entry, as have Olympic gold medallists Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Indonesia) and Denmark’s Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen.

Indonesia have two more pairs who will do battle in Glasgow: Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto and Ronald Ronald/Melati Daeva Oktavianti.

England’s Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock will be buoyed by their recent victory at the European Championships as they seek a first World title.

Also in the running are Malaysia’s top two pairs Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying and Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing; Hong Kong’s Lee Chun Hei/Chau Hoi Wah; Japan’s Kenta Kazuno/Ayane Kurihara and Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino; India’s Pranaav Jerry Chopra/Sikki Reddy; Polish veterans Robert Mateusiak/Nadiezda Zieba; and Russia’s Evgenij Dremin/Evgenia Dimova.

Click here for full lists:

Men’s Singles

Women’s Singles

Men’s Doubles

Women’s Doubles

Mixed Doubles