CANADA OPEN R16 – 2 top seeds down, defending champs hold on

Defending champions Manu Attri / Sumeeth Reddy and Do Tuan Duc / Pham Nhu Thao made it through to the quarter-finals at the Canada Open but Zhang Beiwen and the […]

Defending champions Manu Attri / Sumeeth Reddy and Do Tuan Duc / Pham Nhu Thao made it through to the quarter-finals at the but Zhang Beiwen and the Stoeva Sisters both suffered upsets.

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

Defending champions, top seeds, past champions: all were put to the test on Day 3 of the 2017 Canada Open .  By the last match of the day, mixed doubles featured the only top-seeded woman – Chae Yoo Jung of Korea – and the only past champion at this event.  The latter distinction belongs to Vietnam’s Pham Nhu Thao.  She and Do Tuan Duc (pictured top) had their only Grand Prix semi-final appearance here last year and turned that into a title.  On Thursday in Calgary, Do and Pham had to fight hard to shut down Ireland’s Magee siblings, who whittled the Vietnamese pair’s 19-12 lead in the decider down to 19-17 before finally bowing out.

Last year’s runners-up, Nico Ruponen / Amanda Hogstrom of Sweden, are one of two European pairs who made it through.  The third seeds beat England’s Lane/Pugh and must next take on Chinese Taipei Open winners Kim Ha Na and Seo Seung Jae.  Korea’s top pair, Choi Sol Gyu and Chae Yoo Jung, will face the other Europeans, former world #12 Jacco Arends / Selena Piek.  Those two pairs eliminated the last Canadians from the mixed doubles .

Arends is the only non-Korean who will appear in two quarter-finals on Friday.  Chae Yoo Jung will do the same, as will both teenagers in the men’s doubles duo of Kim Won Ho and Seo Seung Jae.  Kim and Seo will have to face the tournament’s other defending champions, however.  Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy (pictured right) ran away with their third game against Korea’s Choi Sol Gyu and Kim Jae Hwan.

Top women out

After an uneventful first round, the upsets began on Thursday in women’s doubles.  First Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva of Bulgaria were stopped in their quest for a first Grand Prix title in nearly two years by Japan’s  Rira Kawashima / Saori Ozaki.  Then later,  Chisato Hoshi / Naru Shinoya (pictured) beat former World Championship semi-finalists Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan.

The loss by Lee So Hee, who won this event in 2014 with Choi Hye In, also meant that women’s doubles is sure to have a brand new champion this year.  She and Shin have not played together much in the past year but considering that both are currently in the top 5 with their regular partners and the fact that they played together from middle school until age 21, this counts as a big upset for the unheralded Hoshi and Shinoya.  Korea still has both Chinese Taipei Open finalists still in the running in women’s doubles in Calgary but Japan has a whopping 5 pairs in the quarter-finals, with a guarantee of having at least two in the semis as well.

The first top seed to be shown the exit this week was earlier in the day.  Zhang Beiwen (pictured right) of the United States fell to another Chinese Taipei Open winner.  Zhang blew no fewer than eight match points in the second game before Japan’s Saena Kawakami took the second game and then dominated the decider.

Interestingly, Kawakami will not be playing her quarter-final against Yui Hashimoto, who beat the three-time defending champion a day earlier.  Hashimoto herself went down to compatriot Haruko Suzuki.

The other high-profile upset in women’s singles came when Brazil Open winner Beatriz Corrales of Spain lost tamely to Korea’s Jeon Joo I.  At world #248, Jeon is by far the lowest-ranked and least experienced of Korea’s women’s singles squad but she made quick work of world #22 Corrales and will advance to take on Ronja Stern of Switzerland.

Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour followed up her win over Lee Jang Mi by removing Pan Am Champion Rachel Honderich from the mix.  That leaves Canadian national women’s singles champion Brittney Tam as the only remaining quarter-finalist from the home team.  She will face 2012 runner-up Sayaka Takahashi for a spot in the semis.

Top seed on a collision course, but with whom?

In men’s singles, top seed Lee Hyun Il was in trouble in his first game against France’s Lucas Corvee but he had a convincing 21-12 win in the third game.  The win keeps him on track to reach his third Canada Open final in four years and his next challenger will be Pan Am Champion Ygor Coelho.

Most of the biggest upsets in men’s singles had happened one or two rounds earlier but the big one on Thursday came when India’s H. S. Prannoy just fell apart after the last interval in his match with Korea’s Jeon Hyeok Jin (pictured).  Prannoy held an 11-7 lead, which he lost, but he kept it close until 13-14 but then Jeon ran away with the next 7 points to take the match.

With the second seed removed and a former Grand Prix Gold winner and finalist having taken his place, one might expect that an all-Korean final would be in the cards.  However, Jeon’s biggest test, if he wants to continue toward his first final of 2017, may well be his next opponent, former world #2 Kento Momota (pictured below).

Jeon and Momota have not met since both were juniors five years ago.  At the time, Momota was just a few days away from a breakthrough, when he would help Japan to the Asian Junior mixed team title, and then take the Asian Junior boys’ singles title.  This time, he is looking for a very different sort of breakthrough, as he is having to build up his out of nothing and get used to playing the international game after more than a year out of competition.

Jeon will be a very different opponent than the 17-year-old whom Momota beat back in 2012 but he is himself just starting to get back into form.  His semi-final finish at the recent Chinese Taipei Open was his best result since Australia last year but he’ll need something more if he wants to get past Momota and advance to the final.

Click here for complete Thursday results

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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