CHINA MASTERS 2012 QF – Sindhu disturbs Li’s fairy-tale

After eight amazing months, Olympic champion Li Xuerui became the fifth, but by far the highest profile, Chinese casualty of this week’s China Masters women’s singles competition. By Kira Rin […]

After eight amazing months, Olympic champion Li Xuerui became the fifth, but by far the highest profile, Chinese casualty of this week’s women’s singles competition.

By Kira Rin and Don Hearn.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live from Changzhou)

Coming off the first gold medal sweep in Olympic badminton history and into the home event where they have won 14 of the last fifteen titles, the Chinese National Badminton Team has certainly seen its share of upsets at this year’s China Masters in Changzhou.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the women’s singles.  As if the losses of former World Champion Wang Lin and Asian Games champion Wang Shixian to Minatsu Mitani were not enough, the showdown between two Asian Junior Champions produced a far bigger upset.

Reigning Asian Junior Champion P.V. Sindhu (pictured above) was not likely thinking of Li Xuerui as her 2008 predecessor to that title, though, as the two lanky women clashed for a spot in the semis.   After all, it was the reigning All England and Olympic gold medallist who strode out to meet her on the TV court this afternoon.

Slow starter Li Xuerui (pictured right) was punished for her many unforced errors, losing her 1st game 19-21, even when she almost made a comeback from a couple of 5-point deficits. Li pushed forward with her focused attack to easily take the next game 21 5 but fell short in the deciding game.

Unfortunately for Minatsu Mitani, she wasn’t the only hungry underdog in her region of the draw in Changzhou this week.  Her almost Cinderella run ended with  a showdown with 2010 Youth Olympic gold medallist Sapsiree Taerattanachai.  Sapsiree came in having beaten 6th-seeded Liu Xin and clinched victory in their third encounter.

The other Thais were not so lucky and could not get past China’s veteran shuttlers.  Wang Yihan took out a strong-starting Ratchanok Intanon in two games of 21-15 and 21-17 with patient and consistent rallying.  Then 16-year-old Busanan Ongbamrungphan, who had dispatched 2011 Indones