CHINA MASTERS 2012 QF – Sindhu disturbs Li’s fairy-tale

After eight amazing months, Olympic champion Li Xuerui became the fifth, but by far the highest profile, Chinese casualty of this week’s China Masters women’s singles competition. By Kira Rin […]

After eight amazing months, Olympic champion Li Xuerui became the fifth, but by far the highest profile, Chinese casualty of this week’s women’s singles competition.

By Kira Rin and Don Hearn.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live from Changzhou)

Coming off the first gold medal sweep in Olympic badminton history and into the home event where they have won 14 of the last fifteen titles, the Chinese National Badminton Team has certainly seen its share of upsets at this year’s China Masters in Changzhou.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the women’s singles.  As if the losses of former World Champion Wang Lin and Asian Games champion Wang Shixian to Minatsu Mitani were not enough, the showdown between two Asian Junior Champions produced a far bigger upset.

Reigning Asian Junior Champion P.V. Sindhu (pictured above) was not likely thinking of Li Xuerui as her 2008 predecessor to that title, though, as the two lanky women clashed for a spot in the semis.   After all, it was the reigning All England and Olympic gold medallist who strode out to meet her on the TV court this afternoon.

Slow starter Li Xuerui (pictured right) was punished for her many unforced errors, losing her 1st game 19-21, even when she almost made a comeback from a couple of 5-point deficits. Li pushed forward with her focused attack to easily take the next game 21 5 but fell short in the deciding game.

Unfortunately for Minatsu Mitani, she wasn’t the only hungry underdog in her region of the draw in Changzhou this week.  Her almost Cinderella run ended with  a showdown with 2010 Youth Olympic gold medallist Sapsiree Taerattanachai.  Sapsiree came in having beaten 6th-seeded Liu Xin and clinched victory in their third encounter.

The other Thais were not so lucky and could not get past China’s veteran shuttlers.  Wang Yihan took out a strong-starting Ratchanok Intanon in two games of 21-15 and 21-17 with patient and consistent rallying.  Then 16-year-old Busanan Ongbamrungphan, who had dispatched 2011 Indonesia Grand Prix Gold winner Chen Xiaojia earlier in the week, lost out to Jiang Yanjiao in three.

Slow, and steadily faster

Gurusaidutt R.M.V. took advantage of his small body to start off and maintain a high attacking pace against Chen Long. Chen was only momentarily startled by this quick start and showed his Olympic medal-winning attack performance, smashing his way through in 2 games.

Mixed fortunes in doubles

World number one mixed doubles pair Xu Chen / Ma Jin took the lead for China as they cleared up their opponents Anders Kristiansen and Julie Houmann in a quick, 33-minute match.  Unfortunately the same could not be said of Tao Jiaming and Bao Yixin as they fell to 3rd-seeded Malaysians Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying (pictured left) in a longer lasting match of 53 minutes.

2nd seeds Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam progressed through Liu Cheng and Luo Yu in yet another quick 33-minute match.

Despite the fact that Chai Biao and Zhang Nan were only recently reunited, they comfortably disposed of another new pair formed earlier this year, Gan Teik Chai and new partner Ong Soon Hock.

Three women go for doubles

In a very rare case, women’s doubles had just only 7 pairs competing, resulting in the quarterfinals being the very first day for their matches.  Most results were according to ranking but Goh Liu Ying made it two semi-finalists when she and Lim Yin Loo sent 4th-seeded Duanganong Aroonkesorn / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul of Thailand packing.

Sapsiree Taerattanachai failed in her attempt to reach two semis, though.  Unlike her women’s doubles opponent Bao Yixin, she came into the match with one final four spot in hand but she and Savitree Amitrapai (pictured right) lost a hard-fought match to Singapore Open champions Bao and Zhong Qianxin after 69 minutes.

Click here for complete quarter-final results

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