It is not often that you see players like Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei losing in the second round on the same day at a same tournament. But that did happen at Delhi’s Siri Fort Sports Complex on Thursday March 31, 2016. Two of badminton’s biggest stars followed one another out of the India Super-Series event in a space of an hour. Lin Dan was the first to be beaten by Korea’s Son Wan Ho and Lee Chong Wei followed the Chinese legend soon after being done in by Hong Kong’s Wei Nan. Other casualties in India Open were; men’s doubles top seeds and defending champions Chinese Chai Biao/Hong Wei and women doubles’ no.1 and no.2 seeds; Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark. Indian stars Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu entered the quarterfinals but while Saina progressed to the semifinal on Friday, Sindhu wasn’t so lucky. On Saturday, however, Saina Nehwal was also toppled by China’s Li Xuerui. In men’s singles final on Sunday, Japan’s Kento Momota will play against Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen while the women’s singles final will see Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon locking horns with China’s former world no.1 Li Xuerui.
The ongoing Yonex Sunrise India Open Super-series badminton tournament at Delhi has become a graveyard of seeded stars. While Indian fans were disappointed to see Saina Nehwal crashing out in the semifinal against China’s Li Xuerui on Saturday, the more unprecedented event occurred two days earlier. On Thursday, after the newly crowned All-England champion Lin Dan lost 13-21, 20-22 in his second round match against Korea’s former India Open champion Son Wan Ho; it was the turn of Malaysia’s former world no.1 Lee Chong Wei. The Malaysian hero couldn’t stand against Hong Kong’s Wei Nan in his 19-21, 19-21 loss. It is another matter that Lin Dan and Chong Wei’s conquerors have since exited the tournament themselves but they brought the shock factor in the tournament. India’s challenge was carried forward only by Saina Nehwal after Kidambi Srikanth fell on first day but Saina struggled through the tournament. She played an 83-minute draining quarterfinal on Friday before scraping through with a 19-21 21-14 21-19 win over Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun. However, PV Sindhu was not so lucky in her quarterfinal against another Korean Bae Yeon Ju as she lost 21-15, 15-21, 15-21 loss. On Saturday, Saina fought hard against Li Xuerui but finally bowed out in three games 20-22, 21-17, 19-21.
Many other seeded stars fell by the wayside at 2016 India Open. Men’s doubles top seeds and defending champions Chinese Chai Biao/Hong Wei were beaten 20-22, 21-19, 18-21 by Indonesia’s Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo/Gideon Markus Fernaldi. In women’s doubles, no.1 seeds Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari of Indonesia lost 18-21, 21-19, 21-23 after a grueling 90-minute battle with Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi. Women doubles no.2 seeds Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl lost 21-14, 20-22, 17-21 against unseeded Japanese Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao and mixed doubles no.2 seeds Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na lost 17-21, 21-17, 18-21 against China’s no.7 seeds Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong.
But among women, China’s Li Xuerui and Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon produced classy performances and it is just as well that the two women will take on one another in Sunday’s final. The same is true of Japan’s Kento Momota and Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen. These two progressed to the final with an impressive show at 2016 India Open. On Sunday, women’s doubles final will be an all-Japanese battle between Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi and Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao and men’s doubles final will likewise see two Indonesian pairs pitted against each other, when Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo/Gideon Markus Fernaldi play the combo of Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi. In the mixed doubles final, Indonesia’s Riky Widianto/Puspita Richi Dili will square up with China’s no.7 seeds Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong.
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