KOREA OPEN 2015 R16 – All-new giant killers

The upsets continued at the Korea Open but only with new underdogs, as Son Wan Ho and two former world #1s disposed of three Chinese #2s. By Don Hearn.  Photos: […]

The upsets continued at the but only with new underdogs, as Son Wan Ho and two former world #1s disposed of three Chinese #2s.

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

Wednesday at the Korea Open saw a number of heavy underdogs deal some shock defeats to higher-ranked players.  In the round of 16, the underdogs were much higher profile, but then so were the upset victims, and no one moreso than three-time Korea Open champion Lin Dan.  Lin was one of three of China’s second-best entries to exit after the second round.  The other two were beaten by former world #1s.

One might say that the writing was on the wall.  After seven defeats at the hands of the great Lin Dan, Korea’s Son Wan Ho (pictured) had four match point opportunities against the Chinese superstar last week in Japan.  Son might have let each of those four chances come and go a week ago but today in Seoul, he grabbed his next opportunity with both hands and finally took the win.

Son Wan Ho took it home in front of the meagre mid-week morning crowd in straight games and set up a showdown with reigning World Champion Chen Long.  Unlike with Lin Dan, before today, Son has actually had a more two-sided rivalry with Chen and even won their last encounter, at last year’s Hong Kong Open.

Of the many players who perpetrated upsets on Wednesday in Seoul, the vast majority had to concede defeat on the following day and failed to advance to the quarter-finals.  There were, in fact, only four exceptions – Wei Nan, Tian Houwei, Ajay Jayaram, and Koo/Tan.  Of these, only the last two scored what could be considered an upset today.

Jonatan Christie, Ihsan Maulana Mustofa, and Hsu Jen Hao all went down to higher-ranked players.  Others, such as Pratama/Suwardi and Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, suffered minor upsets themselves.  Sindhu was unable to maintain her momentum after the victory over Ratchanok Intanon on Wednesday and was beaten quickly by Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi (pictured).

Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong (pictured) first reached world #1 only months after they began their partnership nine years ago.  Now, however, their ranking is a lowly #52 in the world but that didn’t stop them from schooling China’s Chai Biao / Hong Wei.  It took the Malaysians only half an hour to seal the victory and make their way into the final eight, where they will face the last Chinese pair in the draw.

Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan once again succeeded where their countrymen had failed.  It took them three games but they finally ousted Kim Jae Hwan and Choi Sol Gyu, the youngsters who had beaten Kamura/Sonoda a day earlier.

The last of China’s number twos to leave were Xu Chen and Ma Jin.  They mixed doubles third seeds were unable to hold on against former world #1 Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam (pictured) of Thailand, who won in just under an hour.  The Thais are now in the only quarter-final match without Chinese representation and they will take on England’s Chris and Gabrielle Adcock.

Chae Yoo Jung may not have been able to follow up her amazing first-round victory in women’s doubles with another but her mixed partner Shin Baek Cheol and she found the winning formula against Indonesia’s Riky Widianto and Puspita Richi Dili.  Shin and Chae will be up next against the Olympic and World Champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei.

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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 @ badzine.net