DENMARK OPEN R16 – Fall of the Legends

Neither being a top seed nor spending years as world #1 could provide immunity from upset as greats like Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei and Lee Chong Wei were shown […]

Neither being a top seed nor spending years as world #1 could provide immunity from upset as greats like Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei and Lee Chong Wei were shown the exit from the 2nd round of the .

By Kira Rin.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

He was far from the highest ranked casualty on Day 2 of the 2015 Denmark Open Premier but no one has spent as long at world #1 as has legendary Lee Chong Wei (pictured right).  In Odense, however, Lee faltered in two games to Hong Kong’s Wei Nan.

Meanwhile, Lee’s fellow former #1 Lin Dan had to hold out against Wei’s compatriot – an aggressive Hu Yun – to scrape out a win in the decider in order to progress to the next round. Jan O Jorgensen had to count on the support of the home crowd to fend off an aggressive Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka who gave Jan an early scare with a 1 game lead.

Speaking of home crowd support, Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (pictured below) had a lot more than he expected during his midnight contest with current world #1 Chen Long.  The two men did not get on court until 11:40PM for a match that would finish quite quickly.

“I promised my coach I wouldn’t be too hard on myself after this match as Chen Long is not the guy I should measure myself against at the moment,” said Vittinghus on his Facebook page.  “I’m happy I put in a good performance yesterday and got a win of great importance for me.

“Lastly I just want to say a MASSIVE thanks to all the spectators who chose to stay in the arena well after midnight just to support me. I really appreciate that even if I was having a frustrating time on court.”

Vittinghus will play his last Superseries event of the year next week in France.  His last shot at returning to Dubai, where he was Superseries Finals runner-up last year, vanished with his loss this week.  Lee Chong Wei will be mathematically eliminated from Dubai as soon as Kashyap Parupalli steps on court in Paris.

Even current number ones not safe

Olympic champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei were the first world #1s to be shown the door.  They went down courtesy of Koreans Shin Baek Cheol and Chae Yoo Jung (pictured top).  Striking while the iron was hot, Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan (pictured bottom) then sent world #1s Misaki Matsumoto and Ayaka Takahashi packing in 2 games as well. Minatsu Mitani then rounded out the game of upsets by posting a two-game victory over women’s singles top seed Saina Newhal.

The upset victories are crucial to the three perpetrators.  The doubles winners constitute brand-new pairs who have an outside chance of becoming the second Koreans in their respective disciplines in both Dubai and Rio.  Mitani, meanwhile, still has a chance of nosing ahead of her younger compatriots, both of whom began the week in the Superseries top 8.

Chen Long and Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong were the only top seeds to escape the downward spiral of defeat to progress to the quarter-finals. Even so, the spiral of defeat claimed other players that could not match up to their rank, with Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan falling to rising Chinese doubles stars Liu Cheng and Lu Kai.

In the sea of flags, an odd one out!

Michelle Li (pictured) will be the only player in the Denmark Open quarter-finals who is not representing a nation from Asia or Europe. In a nail-biting 3rd game, she had to come from behind a 7-point lead held by Nozomi Okuhara to force extra points at 20-all.  Li then seized a lucky chance to clinch the last game 26-24.

It was, in fact, her second consecutive win over Okuhara, whom she beat in the Australian Open in the spring, too.  For a spot in the semi-finals, she now faces current World Champion Carolina Marin, another top-ten player whom she beat in their last encounter.

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About Kira Rin