CHINA OPEN 2014 R16 – Bad Round 2 for #2s

World Champion Chen Long and current All England champion Wang Shixian have been shown the door early, at the Thaihot China Open Superseries Premier. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live) […]

World Champion Chen Long and current All England champion Wang Shixian have been shown the door early, at the Thaihot Premier.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

After major upsets in the first round of the Thaihot China Open Superseries Premier of both men’s doubles finalists from the 2013 World Championships, it was the turn of the singles draws to be the scenes of serious surprises.  On Thursday in Fuzhou, no fewer than 3 world #2 Chinese shuttlers suffered upsets, though in the case of women’s doubles top seeds Bao/Tang, it was a retirement due to injury.

Two-time World Junior Champion Akane Yamaguchi (pictured) may have been turning heads ever since she became the youngest ever Superseries winner by taking the 2013 Japan Open title; however, until this week, nearly all of her upsets have been at the expense of older teenagers.  While Ratchanok Intanon, P. V. Sindhu, and Tai Tzu Ying are certainly all quality shuttlers, Akane’s latest victim is by far the most accomplished.

World #2 Wang Shixian was prevented from getting any closer to a first China Open title when she was stopped by the 17-year-old Yamaguchi in two short games.  One of the shortest in the women’s singles game, the world #35 from Japan will now take on possibly the tallest, in 20-year-old Sun Yu of China, who advanced when Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei was forced to withdraw partway through their second game.

Tai thus failed to become the 7th women’s singles player to clinch a berth in the Superseries Finals, as Yamaguchi and 2 other Japanese shuttlers are still within striking distance.  However, if she is healthy enough to step on court in Hong Kong on Wednesday, only a finalist can overtake her.

Zwiebler beats the best

In comparison to Yamaguchi’s victory over Wang Shixian, it may not be quite the upset on paper when the man who beats the reigning World Champion is a veteran, a former top ten player, and a multiple Superseries finalist, but in terms of the match on court, there was no contest.  In the longest battle of the day, Germany’s Marc Zwiebler (pictured below) came back from 10-17 down in the second game, saved a match point, and went on to beat Chen Long 21-19 in the third and deciding game.

It was Zwiebler’s first win over Chen since 2009 when the Chinese star, then just 20 but already a Grand Prix Gold event winner, was one of the German’s victims on his way to his first ever Superseries final.  With this win, Zwiebler kept alive his dim hopes of qualifying for Dubai, as he is at the end of a still huge chase pack of 11 players, all of whom have at least a mathematical chance of catching several of the current top 8 in the Superseries standings.

Dropped from the chase pack on Thursday was Asian Games gold medallist Lin Dan.  Although he finally turned the tables on Jan Jorgensen after losing twice in a row to the Dane, it was actually Jorgensen who found himself assured of a berth in Dubai.

Two of the eight players who still had a slight chance of catching Jorgensen, the current #2 in the Superseries rankings, lost their second round matches.  Meanwhile, Lin Dan, who still had an ever-so-slim chance of reaching the top 8 with a not-so-improbable two straight titles, fell to the wayside when Kidambi Srikanth passed the 40,000 point mark in Fuzhou with his win over Gao Huan.

Tough act to follow

Both major upset perpetrators from Wednesday’s men’s doubles action failed to convert their run into quarter-final appearances.  First, Michael Fuchs and Johannes Schoettler, after becoming the first to off a world #2 this week when they beat Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen in the first round, fell to Cai Yun / Lu Kai on Thursday.

Then 2013 World Junior Champions Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen, who beat their World Champion counterparts Hendra Setiawan / Mohammad Ahsan, could not follow that up and instead fell to Japan’s Hirokatsu Hashimoto / Noriyasu Hirata.  Japan and Korea each sent two pairs to the quarter-finals but Japan limited China to 3.  Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa (pictured) beat Denmark Open winners Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan to clinch a berth in the quarters, and also in the Superseries Finals, along with Lee/Tsai and Lee/Yoo.

Click here for complete Thursday results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @