On day one, after Saina Nehwal beat Wang Shixian, India’s Kidambi Srikanth also scored his first victory in his men’s singles match of the Dubai World Super-Series Finals in the third session. He played against Japan’s Kento Momota and despite problems, early in the match, the Indian came through 15-21, 21-16, 21-10. On second day, both Indian stars recorded their second successive victories in the prestigious tournament against accomplished opponents and consolidated their positions in the tournaments. Saina Nehwal beat Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun 21-12, 21-18 while Srikanth ran into a match with Indonesia’s Tommay Sugiarto. Srikanth was not found wanting as he played with aplomb and won his match 21-18, 21-13 without too much trouble. The tournament is featuring world’s best badminton stars and all of them are out to make a good impression in the year-ending event.
In the third session on first day, fast rising Japanese woman Akane Yamaguchi demonstrated why she must be regarded as one of the biggest prospects amongst the current breed of women players as she beat the second seeded Wang Yihan of China. Already named as year’s Most Promising Player for second year running, Yamaguchi defeated Wang 21-16 17-21 21-15 in a Women’s singles Group B match. The contest lasted for over an hour and the match saw Yamaguchi’s fantastic retrieving abilities. She was able to return shots that could otherwise be counted as winners in a normal match. Yamaguchi won the first game with ease but lost the second to the talented Chinese. However, Yamaguchi was relentless in the third game and her court coverage and athleticism surprised Wang Yihan to the extent that the Chinese fell behind and never recovered.
For Japan, first day’s third session was quite fruitful except that Kento Momota had to suffer a loss against India’s K. Srikanth in Men’s Singles. It was the second time that Srikanth had beaten Momota. The first occasion was during the China Open, when Srikanth surprised everyone to win the title by beating Chen Long and on his way, he had scored his first win over Momota. Srikanth changed his playing strategy against the Japanese after losing the first game 15-21 and despite Momota taking an early 5-0 lead in the second game, lost the next two games. Srikanth finally emerged victorios 15-21, 21-16, 21-10. On Thursday, Srikanth recorded another impressive win and this time he beat Tommay Sugiarto of Indonesia 21-18, 21-13. While Srikanth has won both his matches over the first two days, Momota also put his loss to the Indian aside and won his match against Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen 20-22, 21-18, 21-12 in 66 minutes. Though Jorgensen walked a tight rope in the first game before winning 22-20, he lost the next two to the fighting Japanese. Another Japanese men’s singles player in Group A, Kenichi Tago also came through against Korea’s formidable contender Son Wan Ho, who retired in the second game after the scores read, 21-9 11-3. On first day, Son had lost to Hans Kristian Vittinghus. Other Japanese stars who won on second day were Group A women’s Doubles pair and top seed Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, who beat Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun/Kim Ha Na 21-15 13-21 21-12. Later the Japanese pair also recorded another victory over Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl. In a hard-fought match, the Danes took the first game but the two Japanese women showed courage and finally prevailed 14-21 21-16 21-9.
In Men’s Doubles Group B, Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa of Japan beat China’s Liu Xiaolong/Qiu Zihan 21-7, 21-12 in a nearly one-sided contest. But a mixed doubles Group A match was a see-saw affair between Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na and England’s Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock. After first two games finished level, Korea took a 10-3 lead in the third. But the Adcocks grabbed seven points in a row and the game got riveting after that. The two pairs fought neck-to-neck and Adcocks held a match point. But the Koreans held their nerves and took the third game to finish the match 14-21, 21-18, 22-20 in 66 minutes. In another match of group A, Chinese top seeds Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei defeated Germany’s Michael Fuchs/Birgit Michels 21-18, 21-10, while in a Men’s Doubles Group B match, Denmark’s Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen beat Chinese Taipei’s Lee Sheng Mu/Tsai Chia Hsin 21-16, 21-16.
In women’s singles Indian star Saina Nehwal scored her second win in the tournament when she beat Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, 21-12, 21-18. Saina also derived an indirect benefit, when Women’s Singles top seed Wang Shixian (China) lost to Korea’s Bae Yeon Ju, 21-17, 21-17 and second seed Wang Yihan retired with injury during her second match against Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying in Women’s Singles Group B. But Japanese schoolgirl, Akane Yamaguchi played another brilliant match against Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon and came through 21-15, 16-21, 21-12.
Other notable winners on second day were China’s top seed Chen Long, who defeated Denmark’s Vittinghus 13-21, 21-10, 21-9 in a men’s singles Group A match; Denmark’s Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (Men’s Doubles Group B) and Danish mixed doubles pair of Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen.
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