Olympic gold medallist Chen Long suffered an early exit in the second round of the All England while Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk enjoys his very first win over the world number three. Meanwhile, despite some key losses, Japan can be reassured as its legacy is being well taken care of with some extremely promising youngsters ready to take over the world.
By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent live from Birmingham. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)
Olympic champion out
Chen Long won’t be able to gain a third All England title after he was sent packing in straight games by the in-form Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (pictured). The Thai erased the last ten losses he had to endure at the hands of the tall Chinese player, allowing him to step on court with a nothing to lose attitude.
“It is the biggest win of my career so far. I am really happy. I just tried to put on a good performance and beat him,” commented Tanongsak after his 21-16, 21-19 win over the world number three.
Tanongsak is now set to meet Chou Tien Chen, a player he last met and lost to, here in Birmingham five years ago. Chou is coming off victory at last week’s German Open and enjoyed a convincing win on Thursday over Singapore Open champion Sony Dwi Kuncoro.
All the eight seeded players in women’s singles managed to reach the quarter-final, an episode that will certainly be promising as any of the remaining aces could possibly take the crown on Sunday. While India’s best representatives, Saina Nehwal and P. V. Sindhu, both grabbed their tickets with evident ease, others had to battle a bit harder to get their due.
Olympic gold medallist, Carolina Marin was almost shown the way out by He Bingjiao (pictured) in what was, amazingly, their first encounter. He was close to concluding the match when she was a game up and leading 17-13 in the second, but that was before Marin’s fighting spirit got in the way.
“It is important for me to keep fighting until the end. Though I did not start the match very well, I am happy to have finished it well,” commented Carolina before adding eagerly: “I want to win. I want the title.”
Since the retirement of Kenichi Hayakawa, many were worried Japan would not find a suitable men’s doubles pair to take the lead. However, Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda (pictured) keep on displaying fabulous badminton, particularly in the few months since Hayakawa’s departure. Not only have they matched the world #2 ranking that Endo and Hayakawa achieved as their career best but in Hong Kong, they did what their countrymen had never been able to do, in winning their first Superseries title.
Kamura and Sonoda joined the quarter-final in Birmingham this week after a superb performance over Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen where the crowd witnessed the incredible rapidity of the two players. Qualifiers Zhang Nan and Liu Cheng are now asked to face the fantastic Japanese pair for a place in the semis.
Title holders Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi were left no choice but to concede victory to their compatriots Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota (pictured bottom), who exhibited wonderful badminton against their illustrious opponents. The German Open winners showed some great power and agility on court, deserving their spot in the last eight in their very first All England Superseries.