SINGAPORE OPEN 2011 R16 – More seeds fall

After Bao Chunlai crashed out earlier in the day, more seeded players followed suit, including Bao’s compatriot Chen Long and Taufik Hidayat, with a slew of upsets in the last […]

After Bao Chunlai crashed out earlier in the day, more seeded players followed suit, including Bao’s compatriot Chen Long and Taufik Hidayat, with a slew of upsets in the last matches of the day for the second time at the Li-Ning  Singapore Super Series Badminton Championships.

By Pearlyn Kwang, live from Singapore. Photos (live): Badmintonphoto

As a result, the men’s singles draw has lost both its top seed and third seed. Taufik failed to live up to his top billing as he fell to China’s up-and-coming Wang Zhengming (photo) in three games, 16-21, 22-20, 13-21. Ultimately, the Indonesian lost to a younger and, therefore, fitter player, as he visibly ran out of steam in the last game, unable to keep up with his opponent’s pace.

While Wang successfully proceeded on to the quarter-finals, team-mate and third seed Chen Long was not so lucky, coming up short in the epic, nerve-wrecking rematch against Lee Hyun Il (photo), which clocked 1 hour 18 minutes – the longest so far in the tournament.

Experience was the key to the win, as Lee prevailed 21-18, 21-23, 21-18. When quizzed if he had any special feelings about beating Chen Long, or Chinese players for that matter, the Korean ace said there wasn’t any since he played at such a high level before in the past, a former world number 1 himself. “To me, facing a Chinese player is just like facing any other players.  Beating them is also like winning any other matches. I will just concentrate on playing my game well and not focus on who my opponents are.”

Lee had been absent for a while in the circuit right after the 2008 Olympics, but gradually made his comeback in 2010 and is now participating actively once again. Lee explained, “I want to have a shot at another Olympics, which is why I’m back now.”

After narrowly missing out on a medal in Beijing, Lee hopes to be able to go one step further in London. But before that, he has to face Chen Jin in the quarter-finals tomorrow, the very person who beat him to the Olympic bronze medal.

The upsets continued in the last few matches of the day, with Saina Nehwal, the defending women’s singles champion, the biggest casualty.

It all started well for the Indian lass, and she looked poised to bulldoze her way through after nabbing the first game 21-8. Nonetheless, her hardy opponent was not about to let it happen as Cheng Shao Chieh (photo) came back even stronger in the second game to keep her quarter-final dreams alive. Despite boisterous cheers and support from a mini Indian contingent, Saina could not repeat her first-game brilliance and had to admit defeat to her opponent from Chinese Taipei.

The 25-year-old Taiwan player said of her performance, “I didn’t do well in the first set because I found it hard to control the shuttle with the draft. However, in the second, our positions were switched and I was playing against the wind, so I could control the game this time and I dared to play a variety of shots. Then as I was becoming more adept, Saina got nervous and made mistakes.”

Saina’s exit meant that the tournament is left without any of its defending champions, as Singapore’s Yao Lei and Shinta Mulia Sari were also dumped out in the afternoon.

Another upset was in the other half of the women’s singles draw, with fifth-seeded Bae Youn Joo outclassed by the more experienced Yao Jie (photo) 21-19, 22-20. The Dutch veteran seemed in good form and was helped in her victory with former compatriot and good friend Xu Huaiwen, who is back in the international circuit as the new Dutch coach, since April 1st.  It is no joke for Bae, who had probably hoped to be the one facing Wang Yihan in the quarters.

Japan’s Endo Hiroyuki / Hayakawa Kenichi provided the last upset of the day with their 21-17, 21-19 drubbing of world number 7 Markis Kido / Hendra Setiawan.  It was another good win for Japan after the giant killers Sato and Matsuo beat Lee and Chien from Chinese Taipei in the mixed doubles event.

For full results, click here.

For LIVE PHOTOS of the event, click on the Facebook Page of Badmintonphoto, Official Photo Agency of BWF.

About Pearlyn Kwang