Yang/Lu Surprise Second Seeds – Day 3: CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2017

Yang Po Han and Lu Ching Yao created the upset of the day at the CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2017 yesterday, taking out second seeds Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen.

The Chinese Taipei Men’s Doubles pair kept their nerve in a tense finish, with Yang in particular having a standout game, as he dominated the net to see the challengers through to a 21-15 15-21 21-17 victory.

Yang and Lu ran away to a 12-4 lead in the third, but with the experienced second seeds steadily pulling themselves back to within a point at 16-17, it looked like the Chinese had things under control. It was Yang (featured image) who stepped up to the plate at the crucial moment, and his sharp left-handed interceptions put the Chinese under pressure and saw the challengers through at the end.

Yang/Lu face Korea’s Choi Solgyu/Kim Dukyoung, who prevailed in an even closer finish, over Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe, 21-15 11-21 22-20, after saving a match point.

In Women’s Doubles, Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl made their way past Korea’s Kim So Yeong/Chae Yoo Jung 21-15 21-11 and will face another Korean pair, Kim Hye Rin/Yoo Hae Won. The Danes admitted the match was tougher than the score suggested, but were happy with their form:

“The score looked easier than it was. We have respect when we face Korea. We were well prepared, that’s the reason the score looked good. We had to work hard in the rallies,” said Pedersen.

“It’s a new combination,” added Rytter Juhl. “We haven’t played them as a pair before. The Koreans are doing great at the moment. We’re happy with the win; we’re happy we’ve still got it.

“So far it’s a really good season for us. It’s hard to believe that we can still manage to find this level. We enjoy being on court, playing together, travelling around the world, sometimes when it’s tough, it’s about finding the positive things outside the court and we’re good at that. We enjoy being here.”

The other quarter-final in the bottom half of the draw will see two World Superseries champions this year face off – Korea’s Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee against Japan’s Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota.

In Women’s Singles, defending champion Saina Nehwal was surprised by the combativeness of Malaysian newcomer Soniia Cheah but recovered in the third game to prevail 21-15 20-22 21-14.

The tall Cheah troubled Nehwal with her speed and steep half-smashes; the Indian had to dig deep to stonewall the sharp angles of the Malaysian, and her counter-attacking game eventually broke Cheah’s resistance.

Nehwal was all praise for Cheah after the match: “My first round (against Sung Ji Hyun) was quite tough, it took a lot of energy, the rallies were fast and I felt the effect today. Soniia has some good sharp shots, she’s a tricky player the first time you face her. She’s moving well, and she was picking up a lot of shots. She was playing like a doubles player – very fast parallel shot, very fast from her backhand. She had the tendency to take four-five points at a stretch. I think she will come up.”

In the top quarter, No.1 seed Tai Tzu Ying held off a late challenge from Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, 21-11 21-18, to book a quarter-final against India’s Pusarla V Sindhu. The other quarter-finals feature Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi against China’s Chen Yufei; China’s Sun Yu against Saina Nehwal, and an all-Japanese clash between Sayaka Takahashi – who beat China’s He Bingjiao 21-14 21-17 – and Nozomi Okuhara.

Click here for results

Ridder to Head Athletes’ Commission

Dutch international Koen Ridder is the new Chair of the BWF Athletes’ Commission.

Ridder replaces Belgium’s Yuhan Tan whose four-year term on the commission ended in May. Germany’s Marc Zwiebler is the new Vice-Chair.

Ridder was chosen as Chair by fellow commission members after the Athletes’ Commission election which concluded at last month’s TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup in Gold Coast. He will represent athletes on the BWF Council for the next two years until the end of his four-year term.

BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer welcomed Ridder to the BWF Council, noting the importance of players having good representation.

“Our players are a key stakeholder within our international federation and it is crucial they have a strong voice at the BWF’s highest level. We look forward to Koen’s fruitful contribution in this regard,” said Høyer, also thanking Tan for his service on athletes’ behalf.

Having been Vice-Chair for the past two years, Ridder said he will draw on that experience as he assumes the helm.

“I worked very closely as Vice-Chair with Yuhan Tan who did a great job. I will use the knowledge which I gained during that time,” said the 32-year-old.

The new Chair stated the commission’s focus will be “to become more visible, reach more athletes, improve their overall well-being and offer after-career solutions”.

“I hope we can take the Athletes’ Commission to the next level by intensifying our communication and discussions with BWF; using information and developments we receive from the IOC (International Olympic Committee) Athletes’ Commission; and improving our communication with our non-English-speaking athletes.”

Outgoing Chair, Yuhan Tan, conveyed his best wishes to the BWF Athletes’ Commission.

“I want to thank everybody for the co-operation over the past years. It has certainly been a privilege to represent the athletes and I wish the Athletes’ Commission all the best going forward,” he said.

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NOTE:

The four new members elected to the BWF Athletes’ Commission last month were (in order of most votes):  India’s Pusarla V Sindhu, Germany’s Marc Zwiebler, Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour and Lithuania’s Akvile Stapusaityte.

While Pusarla, Zwiebler and Gilmour will serve full four-year terms, Stapusaityte replaced the retired Tang Yuanting (China) and will serve the remaining two years of Tang’s term.

They join Ridder, India’s Saina Nehwal and Japan’s Shintaro Ikeda as members of the BWF Athletes’ Commission.

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.

Indonesia’s Doubles Success – SCG Thailand Open 2017 Review

Indonesian players warmed up for their home Superseries event, snatching two titles at the SCG Thailand Open 2017 yesterday, while local star, Ratchanok Intanon, was also in winner’s row at the Grand Prix Gold tournament.

Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu gave themselves a good shot of confidence ahead of next week’s BCA Indonesia Open 2017, lifting the Women’s Doubles crown at Nimibutr Stadium. The Indonesian No.5 seeds easily brushed aside Thailand rivals, Chayanit Chaladchalam and Phataimas Muenwong, 21-12 21-12 in 45 minutes. Polii and Rahayu had endured a tougher test in Saturday’s semi-finals, needing 95 minutes to get past another Thai tandem, Savitree Amitrapai and Pacharapun Chochuwong, 24-26 21-16 21. Chaladchalam and Muenwong beat China’s World Junior silver medallists, Du Yue/Xu Ya, 21-19 21-9, to reach the final.

The No.5 seeding also proved lucky for Indonesia in Men’s Doubles as Berry Angriawan and Hardianto Hardianto overcame Germany’s Raphael Beck and Peter Kaesbauer, 21-16 21-16. Yet again, the champions had come through a harder semi-final with a 22-20 18-21 21-9 victory over Olympic bronze medallists, Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis on Saturday in 69 minutes. Meanwhile, Beck and Kaesbauer had seen off Mark Lamsfuss and Marvin Emil Seidel, 21-18 14-21 21-19, in an all-German semi-final.

Mixed Doubles was rocked by the demise of top seeds and red-hot favourites, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai who fell 21-19 19-21 21-17 in the semi-finals. The Thai pair who have enjoyed a run of good form disappointed home fans as they were ousted by Malaysian duo, Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai. Reigning World Junior champions, He Jiting/Du Yue, of China outlasted blossoming Singapore pair and No.2 seeds, Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han, 23-21 21-19, to reach the final. The young Chinese then had enough left in their tank to conquer Goh and Lai, 21-13 16-21 21-12, for the title.

Thai spectators had their chance to celebrate in Women’s Singles as Ratchanok Intanon took top honours over her team-mate, Busanan Ongbamrungphan. In a repeat of the 2013 final, the 22-year-old prevailed 21-18 12-21 21-16 to lift her home championship for the second time while Ongbamrungphan was frustratingly condemned to the runner-up place for the third time, having also lost to Japan’s Aya Ohori in last year’s final. Nonetheless, Ongbamrungphan would have been heartened by her semi-final defeat of No.2 seed Saina Nehwal of India for the first time. The Thai shuttler won 21-19 21-18 while top-seeded Intanon beat Beiwen Zhang of the USA, 21-18 21-15, on Saturday.

Meanwhile, B. Sai Praneeth continued his good showing for the year, taking the Men’s Singles crown. The OUE Singapore Open champion rebounded from a game down to topple Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie, 17-21 21-18 21-19, in 71 minutes. The Indian player had beaten Thailand’s Pannawit Thongnuam (21-11 21-15) in the semi-final while Christie won versus Malaysia’s Soong Joo Ven (21-9 21-18) to reach the final.

All eyes now turn to the resumption of the MetLife BWF World Superseries tour with the US$1 million BCA Indonesia Open 2017, starting on Monday 12 June at Jakarta Convention Center as the usual location – the Istora Senayan – is under refurbishment.