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.

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