HONG KONG OPEN 2014 R16 – Upsets and Destination Dubai spot chasers

Day 3 at the Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open Superseries saw inspired performances by the likes of Tee Jing Yi and Fuchs/Schoettler produce big upsets leading to elimination of highly seeded […]

Day 3 at the Yonex-Sunrise saw inspired performances by the likes of Tee Jing Yi and Fuchs/Schoettler produce big upsets leading to elimination of highly seeded players, in some cases even from the prestigious Superseries Finals.  The race is still very much on for Destination Dubai.

By Emzi Regala.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Malaysia’s Tee Jing Yi (pictured) surprised not only the crowd but herself as well when she eliminated Olympic silver medallist Wang Yihan 21-19, 14-21, 21-15.  While world #2 Wang Shixian suffered the same fate as Yihan, beaten by Liu Xin in yet another 3-game match, Shixian is assured of a spot in the Superseries Finals to be held in Dubai, whereas Yihan can only go if her coaches deem Shixian or Li Xuerui unfit to compete.

Minatsu Mitani not only kept her hope for a last spot to Dubai but also closed the door for Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk after she easily bested her Thai opponent 21-18, 21-14.  Mitani’s hope flickered, though, as she has to finish two steps ahead of her compatriot Akane Yamaguchi who, in reaching the quarter-finals, displaced their veteran team-mate Eriko Hirose as the provisional 8th qualifier for Dubai.

Chances might be bleak for Mitani as Yamaguchi is evidently in good physical and mental condition, evidenced by her inspired victory against the 4th seed, Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon (pictured below), whom she beat 19-21, 21-19, 21-19.  Interestingly, another Japanese shuttler, Nozomi Okuhara could influence the outcome of this race between Mitani and Yamaguchi as the former is scheduled to meet against Yamaguchi in a quarter-final which will be a repeat of their 2012 World Junior Championship final.

Men’s singles spots for the Superseries Finals is still very much open to whoever reaches the finals among day 2 winners Takuma Ueda (pictured below) of Japan and China’s Wang Zhengming.  Korea’s Lee Dong Keun needed to win the tournament to qualify but Jan Jorgensen shut down that dream, no without difficulty, while Denmark’s Victor Axelsen could still enter the top 8 but can no longer catch the second qualified Dane.

Although Tommy Sugiarto can only be turfed out of the top 9 if both Ueda and Wang reach the final together, with Lee Chong Wei’s suspension, spot #9 – which is currently occupied by Kenichi Tago – is a slightly more attainable goal for the two men.

Reigning world champions Ko Sung Hyun / Shin Baek Cheol could not get past their feisty opponents from Japan Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda keeping their composure after losing the 2nd game to clinch the rubber game, 21-19, 13-21, 21-15.  However, the losses by Hirata/Hashimoto and Fernaldi/Kido ensured that two Korean pairs have qualified for Dubai.

Fuchs and Lee trade upsets

A very elated Michael Fuchs together with partner Johannes Schoettler (pictured top) produced the last and biggest upset of the day when they eliminated world #1s Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong in another 3-game match.  They thus denied the in-form Koreans a 9th straight final appearance.

Earlier in the day, Lee had dealt a blow to Fuchs’s last chance at qualifying for Dubai, however, as he and new partner Lee So Hee upset the German pair.  Meanwhile, Kim Ha Na’s withdrawal put the last remaining challengers, Indonesia’s Riky Widianto / Puspita Richi Dili, just one win away from passing Fuchs and Birgit Michels for the #8 spot in the Superseries rankings.

Click here for complete Thursday results

About Emzi Regala