The day saw some impressive and disappointing matches in the women’s singles as Porntip Buranaprasertsuk dug deep to upset Wang Shixian as the other matches on court saw two retirements from injury in favour of both Juliane Schenk and Wang Yihan.
By Xavier Lee, Badzine Correspondent live in Hong Kong. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)
One of Thailand’s rising female stars, Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (pictured) pulled off a sensational win against the 2012 Korean Open champion and 4th seed, beating Wang Shixian of China for the first time. Buranaprasertsuk took a 5-2 lead in the first game, but errors let Wang back into the first set with the score at 11-10 during the interval. Buranaprasertsuk resumed well after the break however and was able to clinch the first game 21-17.
The second game saw a resurgent Wang up the tempo of her game, storming to a 14-6 lead, only encountering muted resistance from the Thai player to claim the second game 21-12.
The deciding rubber was hard-fought from the start with both players hitting top form, the winners finding the line and clipping the top of the net. From 10-14 down, Wang recovered to 17-16, and an excited crowd even saw her drop her racket on the floor whilst fighting a rally. A nervy error gifted match point to Buranaprasertsuk at 20-17, but Wang saved 3 match points although it proved to be in vain as she lost 21-23, mishitting the shuttle in the last rally to bring a truly enthralling match to a close.
“I didn’t expect to win, I thought it would be impossible! There was more pressure on her to win than on me. I’m definitely very happy,” said a jubilant Buranaprasertsuk after the match. The Thai player was well aware that this match was important to both players chances in the Superseries Finals event in December, “I have lost to her 3 or 4 times before so this is important for the Finals in Shenzhen.”
In this form she now has a chance to play, but must reach the final to finish ahead of her compatriot, Ratchanok Intanon. “Yes, we have an opportunity because there can only be two Chinese players in the draw!” exclaimed the Thai shuttler, whose highest attained world ranking is 9.
On the state of Thai women’s badminton, she commented, “Our Thai girls are good now but we need to train harder. We are skilled but need more strength, since most do not train full time.” Buranaprasertsuk herself is entering her final year of university and so trains for approximately 20 hours a week.
More dramatic scenes were to follow in the ladies singles as 5th seed Juliane Schenk of Germany lost the first game of her match against unseeded Chen Xiao Jia (pictured above) convincingly, 14-21. However, after a tense second game, things took an unfortunate turn. Chen twisted her ankle and retired promptly. She required immediate medical assistance and was quickly taken to hospital. Her sudden and unsettling injury was later confirmed to be an Achilles tendon break. Chen’s retirement makes way for Schenk to confront Buranaprasertsuk in the quarter-final in what is sure to be an interesting match.
The winner of this Schenk-Buranaprasertsuk match up will most likely face Wang Yihan, the favourite for the tournament, who also came through her last 16 match today against Minatsu Mitani, despite sporting a quite formidable knee brace. In her second outing at the Hong Kong Open, Mitani quickly gifted an 8-3 lead to Wang before settling to make the first game far less comfortable for the world number one, eventually losing 19-21. However injury was to strike again as at 10-12 down in the second, Mitani called for the physio and subsequently retired, to the relief of Wang Yihan.
“I’m still recovering from my illness, not completely there yet but I’m better. My right leg is painful and the brace looks quite scary and horrible but at this stage it really helps,” explained Wang. Unsurprisingly, the topic of Superseries Finals qualification was also in the air as she explained, “This is an important event, and we don’t know the selection until we return. I believe I should always try to do my very best in every event to get the best results.”
Yihan was not the only Wang to advance to the quarter-finals, either, as Wang Lin (pictured above) produced her biggest upset since the crippling injury she herself suffered soon after becoming World Champion in the summer of 2010. Wang saw off World #3 Saina Nehwal in two games and will face Indonesia’s Adrianti Firdasari in the quarters.
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