CANADA OPEN 2015 – Li lone local in quarters

Michelle Li is the only Pan Am athlete left at the quarter-final stage of the 2015 Yonex Canada Open but the main attraction in Calgary on Thursday was the repeat […]

Michelle Li is the only Pan Am athlete left at the quarter-final stage of the 2015 Yonex but the main attraction in Calgary on Thursday was the repeat of Sunday’s U.S. Open mixed final.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

Canada’s Michelle Li (pictured) is through to the quarter-final stage of her home , the Yonex Canada Open.  However, instead of a rematch with the girl who beat her last week in New York, she will have one with the player she beat in last year’s Canadian final.

Michelle beat Tanvi Lad of India in straight games, winning far more comfortably than she had in the first round against Chinese youngster Shen Yaying, when she blew a four-point lead and one match point in the second game before winning in three.  Her opponent, Pai Yu Po of Chinese Taipei, enjoyed an easy win over Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi, who had dumped Li from the U.S. Open in the first round last week.

Li, Pai and Pai’s 18-year-old compatriot Lee Chia Hsin will be surrounded in the final eight by no fewer than five Japanese players, not including U.S. Open champion Nozomi Okuhara or even runner-up Sayaka Sato.  In fact, former top ten shuttler Minatsu Mitani is the only Japanese player in the top half of the draw, while four compatriots dominate the lower half.

Revenge for former champions

While Michelle Li and the men’s doubles pair of Liang/Lu are the only defending champions still going in Calgary this week, two former winners made their way through the second round in mixed doubles.  The closest match of the day was the rematch between U.S. Open finalists Huang Kaixiang / Huang Dongping of China and Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah (pictured) of Hong Kong.

This time, Lee and Chau were able to change their stars.  After narrowly dropping the first game 20-22, they weathered an equally fierce second game which they won by an identical score.  In the decider, the 2013 champions were trailing 15-18 but began a five-point run that saw them through to the victory.

Also emerging unscathed from the first two mixed rounds – both played on Thursday – were 2011 winners Michael Fuchs / Birgit Michels.  In fact, both of Germany’s 2011 champions are still in the running to recapture their titles as men’s singles top seed Marc Zwiebler is through to the final eight and must face India’s Ajay Jayaram.

The tradition of former world #1s

Already in the past five years at the Canada Open, six former world #1 shuttlers have made their way to the top of the podium.  In 2010, Taufik Hidayat, Cheng Wen Hsing, and Chien Yu Chin all won titles.  The following year saw Cheng Shu and Lee Yong Dae add their names to the list.  Last year, Lee Hyun Il became the men’s singles champion about ten years after his brief appearance atop the rankings.

In 2015, Lee Chong Wei (pictured) will attempt to become the seventh to do it this decade.  He had a little trouble seeing off Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki (pictured bottom) in the round of 16.  Wong first came to international prominence when he won his first ever encounter with Lin Dan back in 2011 and he even had a pair of match points against Lee Chong Wei at their last meeting, in 2013.

This time, Wong might have won the second game, but there was nothing near the pressure situation of the last time as Lee shut him down in the decider, holding him to just ten points.  The Malaysian will now face India’s B. Sai Praneeth for the second consecutive week.

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 @