HONG KONG OPEN 2015 R16 – Lin Dan out!

Crowned champion on five occasions in Hong Kong, Lin Dan confirmed once more he is slowly losing his cape of invincibility, tumbling against Hong Kong hope Ng Ka Long while […]

Crowned champion on five occasions in Hong Kong, Lin Dan confirmed once more he is slowly losing his cape of invincibility, tumbling against Hong Kong hope Ng Ka Long while Kento Momota is also sent packing by Indonesia’s upcoming star.  In the meantime Japan’s Matsutomo and Takahashi showed once more they were probably back at their best level.

By Tarek Hafi.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live from Hong Kong)

Despite his five crowns earned in Hong Kong, Lin Dan failed to even reach the quarter-finals at the 2015 edition, being swept away by Ng Ka Long (pictured), winner of the recent Bitburger Open.  The twenty-one year-old Hong Kong player, proving his recent great form, showed great consistency throughout the match, varying his shots, perfectly counter-attacking the Chinese legend’s hidden shots.

An easily won first game led to a more complicated second game.  Still the newly-discovered Hong Kong jewel, who came into this event third among the four Hong Kong shuttlers currently crowding the top 16 in the Race to Rio standings, stormed past Lin Dan (pictured below) to close out the game after trailing 16-18 and clinched a precious quarter-final place in his home event.

Another top star to fall to an up-and-coming player came in the name of Kento Momota.  The Japanese wonder seemed in complete disbelief, being outplayed by one of Indonesia’s rising stars Anthony Ginting.  A bit more than a half an hour, and straight games later, the fourth seed had no choice but to end his last regular event of the year on a sadder note, leaving all the media exposure on the 2014 World Junior Championship bronze medallist, Anthony Ginting, who won it 21-7, 21-15.

Thailand’s superstar Ratchanok Intanon is going through redemption time, after a disappointing China Open Superseries Premier where she crashed out in the first round.  A week later, the seventh seed grabbed a quarter-final ticket after a tough battle against the impressive Minatsu Mitani.

Still another Japanese shuttler has appeared on the road, as Sayaka Sato erased Hong Kong’s last chance in women’s singles when she beat Yip Pui Yin.  Both Sato and Intanon are joined in the quarter-finals by compatriots.  2014 runner-up Nozomi Okuhara will play a repeat of last year’s final with defending champion Tai Tzu Ying while Porntip Buranaprasertsuk will challenge World Champion Carolina Marin for a spot in the semi-finals.

Women’s doubles world number ones Misaki Matsutomo (pictured) and Ayaka Takahashi are slowly but surely coming back to their greatest form, promising to be among China’s biggest threats at the Olympics.  The top-seeded Japanese pair was beaten once by Tang Jinhua and Zhong Qianxin, before it was decided to split up the Chinese pair.  Still, despite the psychological advantage the Chinese could have, Matsutomo and Takahashi fought hard to come back from a one-game deficit and earn their ticket after an hour and five minutes of play, winning 21-23, 21-10, 21-12.

Former World Champions Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol might each have made their way into the mixed doubles quarter-finals but they are fighting hard to find their consistency back as a men’s doubles pair.  The Korean duo were unable to finish strong enough to get a last-minute ticket to Dubai, as they did last year.  This year, they have left that opportunity to compatriots Kim Ki Jung and Kim Sa Rang (pictured bottom) but with both pairs neck-and-neck in the top 6 of the Race to Rio standings, Dubai could make a big difference to who will grab their Olympic tickets next year in May.

Ko and Shin stumbled again against Malaysia’ Goh V. Shem and Tan Wee Kiong, losing in straight games 20-22, 18-21.  The two Kims had a more even match than expected against Or Chin Chung and Tang Chun Man of Hong Kong but still saw their way into the final 8 where they will be looking for their first victory abroad over World Champions Ahsan/Setiawan.

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