CANADA OPEN 2017 R32 – Japan tramples the Commonwealth

Commonwealth Games gold medallists Michelle Li and Kashyap Parupalli both suffered early upsets at the Canada Open at the hands of talented challengers from Japan. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Yves […]

Commonwealth Games gold medallists Michelle Li and Kashyap Parupalli both suffered early upsets at the at the hands of talented challengers from Japan.

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

Both Commonwealth Games gold medallists were shown the door early at the 2017 Canada Open and Pan Am Champions fared only slightly better.  The home team was quickly reduced to a mere five entries for Thursday’s round of 16 but the most crushing blow for home fans has to be the opening round loss by 3-time champion Michelle Li (pictured right).

Li did not suffer just some fluke upset, however.  Way down in the rankings after playing just a handful of international matches since injury took her out of the Japan Open last autumn, Li was pitted against Japan’s Yui Hashimoto (pictured top) in the first round.

Not only has Hashimoto been in a Superseries Premier final – at the 2015 Indonesia Open, after beating both reigning and former World Champions – but she was also the last player to beat Michelle Li in singles in the Canadian’s home event.  Li lost to Hashimoto in 2013 but bounced back the following year and won the next three editions of the Canada Open.

After dropping the first game, Hashimoto made her move in the second with a 6-point run that put her up 19-14.  Li duly erased that lead but after saving 5 game points, she succumbed on the 6th and Hashimoto carried the momentum through to dominate the deciding game.

Earlier in the day, Japanese teenager Koki Watanabe (pictured left) got the better of Kashyap Parupalli, the other Commonwealth Games gold medallist in action in Calgary.   A former World Junior Championship semi-finalist,Watanabe – like Korea’s Kim Won Ho – is skipping the Asian Juniors to play Grand Prix events this week and next week in the United States.  The 18-year-old won the first and last of three rather one-sided games against Kashyap, who is still on his way back to full form after a long period of recovery from various injuries.

India is in much better shape after the loss by Kashyap Parupalli (pictured below) than is Canada after Li’s departure.  H. S. Prannoy leads a cast of three Indians in the second round of men’s singles and the nation is represented in all but women’s doubles.  Meanwhile, Rachel Honderich and Brittney Tam are still going in women’s singles but are among just five Canadians left overall.

Japan is looking very strong across the board.  Watanabe is one of four men’s singles players from Japan who made it through to the second round and one of the others is former world #2 .  They also have five pairs in women’s doubles, including U.S. Open runners-up Mayu Matsumoto / Wakana Nagahara, who beat Li and Honderich.

Brits send Pan Am Champs packing

Commonwealth Games gold medallists were not the only decorated shuttlers to be humbled by visitors from across the sea.  Two of Canada’s continental champions were beaten in the first round by English shuttlers.  First, Nyl Yakura and Jason Ho-Shue went down to men’s doubles 8th seeds Peter Briggs / Tom Wolfenden in three games.  Then Chloe Birch and Jessica Pugh (pictured below) did the same turn to Canada’s Michelle Tong / Josephine Wu in the women’s doubles event.

The continent did see its 3 other reigning champions survive until Thursday, however.  Brazil’s Ygor Coelho advanced without dropping a game, as did Rachel Honderich (pictured bottom), but only in women’s singles.  Honderich and Toby Ng, the national and continental mixed doubles champions, needed three games to see off Scotland’s Alexander Dunn and Eleanor O’Donnell.

As for Oceania Champions, three were on court on Wednesday and only one remains.  Last year, Australia contributed the women’s doubles champions but with the absence of Gronya Somerville this week, it is left to her partner Setyana Mapasa.  She and Sawan Serasinghe enjoyed an easy win in mixed doubles but on Thursday, Serasinghe must again face Korean youngster Kim Won Ho.  Kim beat the Australian handily in men’s doubles but in mixed, he is in a brand new partnership with women’s doubles world #5 Shin Seung Chan and they await the Australians in the second round.

Click here for complete Wednesday results

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 @