Saina Nehwal lost her way in the second round of the ongoing Japan Open badminton tournament. The Indian ace was done in by PV Sindhu’s conqueror and unseeded Japanese Minatsu Mitani in less than 40 minutes. Also crashing out was Kidambi Srikanth, who lost to compatriot Parupalli Kashyap. With HS Prannoy also losing to Korea’s Lee Dong Keun, Kashyap is the lone Indian in the fray at the tournament. In two other heavy upsets in men’s singles, China’s world no.1 Chen Long and Japan’s no.4 seed Kento Momota exited the Japan Open. While Chen Long was defeated by compatriot Tian Houwei, Momota lost to Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto. Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei couldn’t progress further as he lost to his nemesis Lin Dan of China in his second round match. In one more women’s singles upset, Thailand’s no.5 seed Ratchanok Intanon was undone by unseeded Japanese Nozomi Okuhara in three games. However, women’s top seed Spain’s Carolina Marin survived against Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi in a three-game encounter before winning the 60-minute match. Another casualty on Thursday was the exit of men’s doubles second seeds Denmark’s Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen. The Danes were done in by Korea’s Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang.
Japan’s unseeded Minatsu Mitani, who had shocked India’s PV Sindhu in the first round, crushed India’s no.2 seed Saina Nehwal in a surprisingly one-sided encounter. The Japanese dominated the match from the start and did not allow any foot hold to the celebrated Indian. There was nothing that the world no.1 could do against the charged up Mitani, who played marvelously and won the match with an overwhelming margin in both games to prevail 21-13, 21-16 inside 40 minutes. With Saina’s exit, India’s challenge in women’s singles has come to an end. In men’s singles draw, no.3 seed Kidambi Srikanth lost to compatriot Parupalli Kashyap 11-21, 19-21. Kashyap played brilliantly and Srikanth couldn’t cope with his countryman’s shot making abilities. Kashyap took the first game in 17 minutes and despite Srikanth giving him a fight in the second with a 17-10 lead, Kashyap held his nerves and clawed back to settle the issue in 45 minutes. In the quarterfinal, Kashyap will face the 6th seeded Taiwanese Chou Tien Chen, who came through after defeating Indonesia’s Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka 21-13, 17-21, 21-16. The last Indian HS Prannoy also lost his second round match to South Korean qualifier Lee Dong Keun. The Indian looked helpless in his 9-21, 16-21 defeat against the Korean.
In a day of some major upsets, world champion and no.1 seed Chen Long of China lost to his compatriot Tian Houwei. Chen Long looked off-color against the forceful Houwei and played second fiddle in his tame 16-21, 17-21 loss. Japan’s no.4 seed Kento Momota also fell in the second round to Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto. After a fluctuating three-game battle, the Indonesian prevailed 16-21, 21-13, 21-19. Women’s no.5 seed Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand also crashed out in the second round, losing 21-15, 13-21, 3-21 to Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in 60 minutes. Women’s no.1 seed Carolina Marin, however, survived another three-game battle before coming through against Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi 21-17, 15-21, 21-12. In another third day casualty, men’s doubles second seeds Denmark’s Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen were beaten by Korea’s Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang. The Danes began well by taking the first game 21-18 but the determined Koreans bounced back in the next two and ended as 18-21, 21-18, 21-16 winners in the 62-minute match.
In the marquee match of the day, China’s Lin Dan fended off Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei. There were huge expectations from Lee but he failed to live up to his reputation. They began well with smart exchanges in the first game full of stunning returns and blazing smashes but Lee allowed enough leeway to Lin and the Chinese took the first game 21-17. In the second, Lin Dan controlled the play as the Malaysian committed several errors in net-play. The loss of Lee’s confidence helped the Chinese to take the match 21-17, 21-10 in just 47 minutes.
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