None of the Indian badminton stars could survive in Changzhou’s China Masters tournament on Friday. They couldn’t progress beyond the quarterfinals and all of them lost in straight games against their more accomplished opponents. It is not super-series tournament, where the field tends to be stronger but the Indians still couldn’t make their mark. Some defeats were expected; like Prannoy almost didn’t have any chance against Chen Long or Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa had their match against top-seeded Chinese twin sisters Luo Ying/Luo Yu. But PV Sindhu had a chance against Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk but the Indian didn’t make the most of the opportunity that came her way. Meanwhile, other seeded players expectedly moved into the semifinals. Besides Chen Long, who defeated Prannoy, China’s no.2 seed Lin Dan also progressed to semifinals with a victory over compatriot Guangzu Lu after three closely-fought games. In women’s draw, former world no.1 Li Xuerui easily quashed the challenge of her compatriot He Bingjiao and no.5 seeded Sun Yu, another Chinese scored over Busanan Ongbumrungphan of Thailand.
In the second match on Friday, HS Prannoy faced world no.1 and top seed Chen Long. Prannoy has a reputation of causing problems for top stars and since the Chinese had faced the heat from Prannoy in the recently concluded OUE Singapore Open, he ensured that the Indian doesn’t do it the second time in 8 days. In the first game, however, Prannoy didn’t allow the world no. 1 much leeway until 6-6. But afterwards, Chen Long broke away to take a decisive lead and Prannoy couldn’t make a comeback. In the second game, once again Prannoy stated off well and shot to a 6-0 lead before the Chinese regained control with a class of a champion. After wiping off the deficit quickly, Chen Long moved from 9-9 to 14-9. As Prannoy’s game cracked, Chen Long applied more pressure and just as in the first game; left the Indian way behind. There were no comebacks for the 7th seeded Indian as he lost 10-21, 15-21 in 46 minutes.
4th-seeded PV Sindhu played awkwardly against Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk and allowed her opponent plenty of easy points with a barrage of unforced errors in middle game. Sindhu’s start was good as she went past Porntip three times in the first game. First it was a 4-1 lead for the Indian before she allowed Porntip to come back at 4-4. Then again Sindhu led 7-4 and 13-10 but on both occasions, Sindhu couldn’t keep her hold on the game as Porntip forced her into multiple errors. At 16-16, Porntip scored three straight points to reach 19-16 and allowed Sindhu just one more point before clinching the game 21-17. In the second game once again, Sindhu began with the lead and reached 11-8 at the break. Porntip wasn’t going to give in as she came back strongly to tie the game at 13-13 and made it 15-13 subsequently. For a while, both players fought and reached 19-19. It was here that Porntip wrested the match from the Indian as she reeled off the required two points to win at 21-17, 21-19.
In women’s doubles, India’s Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa were no match for top seeds and 2015 Dubai Super-series winners Luo Ying/Luo Yu. The first game was one-sided from 1-1 onwards before the Chinese twins took it at 21-11. In the second however, Jwala/Ashwini came back from 3-8 to level the scores 8-8 by winning five straight points. This was the best the Indian duo could do in the match as the Chinese sisters ran away with the game and finished winners at 21-11, 21-14 in 39-minutes.
In other notable matches, second-seeded Lin Dan took 51 minutes and three games before overpowering compatriot Guangzu Lu 21-14, 17-21, 21-12; top women singles seed Li Xuerui defeated countrywoman He Bingjiao 21-11, 21-6 in 30 minutes; top-seeded mixed doubles Chinese duo of Xu Chen/Ma Jin crushed compatriots Huang Kaixiang/Huang Dongping 21-12, 21-13 in 23 minutes and top-seeded men’s doubles team of Koreans Lee Yong Dae/Yu Yeon Seong defeated Indonesia’s Fajar Alfian/Rian Muhammad Ardianto 21-13, 23-21.
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