The star-studded $500,000 Maybank Malaysia sponsored World Badminton Super Series 2014 Open tournament got off to a rousing start on Wednesday at Kuala Lumpur’s Putra Stadium. World’s best badminton players were seen in action on the first two days and while some players have justified their world rankings, some others have already fallen by the way side. Local hero, men’s No. 1 seed Lee Chong Wei has moved into the second round. The guy holds an amazing record in the tournament, as he has been undefeated over the last six years; and his overall tally is 9 out of the last 10 tournaments, beginning with 2004.
After Wednesday’s first round matches, Lee Chong Wei is the only Malaysian survivor, as most of his compatriots were beaten. Lee Chong Wei had an easy game against Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, whom he defeated 21-7, 21-13 in barely 35 minutes. In the second round on Thursday, he was up against China’s former world junior champion and no. 4 player Wang Zhengming. The stylish Lee Chong lived up to his reputation to beat the Chinese 21-17, 21-18. Wang put up some resistance in the game but he was no match to the classy Malaysian. The Malaysian stars, who made first round exits included; Chong Wei Feng, Koo Kien Keat, Tan Boon Heong, Hoon Thien How and Lim Khim Wah. The most heartbreaking loss came in the men’s doubles match when Malaysia’s eighth seeded players Hoon Thien How and Lim Khim Wah lost to Chris Langridge and Peter Mills of England after leading 20-15 in the decider.
India’s top women player Saina Nehwal looked fit on Wednesday after an entirely empty 2013, when she couldn’t win a single title. The eighth seeded Saina showed her skills in beating Hera Desi of Indonesia 21-10, 21-16 in just 36 minutes. The other Indian girl, World Championship bronze medal winner, PV Sindhu, however, had a rough time against another Indonesian Lindaweni Fanetri, who fought hard before the World No.11 Sindhu prevailed 21-17, 21-18.
The other Indians who had first round matches on Wednesday were; men’s World No.16 Parupalli Kashyap; recently crowned national champion, K. Srikanth; Anand Pawar and RMV Gurusaidutt. While Kashyap and Srikanth won their matches; Pawar and Gurusaidutt couldn’t show their mettle. Kashyap played a great game against World No.12 Marc Zwiebler of Germany and prevailed in 34 minutes with a score of 21-19, 21-13; while Srikanth fought bravely in finally overcoming World No.11 Hu Yun of Hong Kong 21-17, 18-21, 21-16.
But most Indians, except Srikanth, crashed out on Thursday playing their second round matches. While Saina Nehwal, who might have hoped to re-embark on her glorious performances, prior to 2013, lost in a close match to the lower-ranked Yao Xue of China 21-16, 10-21, 19-21; PV Sindhu came a cropper against the Korean sixth seed Yeon Ju Bae of Korea 16-21, 19-21 in 45 minutes. Elsewhere, India’s top-ranked male player P Kashyap lost to Jan Jorgensen of Denmark 18-21, 15-21. The only saving grace in the second round games for India was the victory of the young sensation Kidambi Srikanth, who reached the tournament quarterfinals after defeating the 17th seeded Son Wan Ho of South Korea 11-21, 21-19, 21-19.
But the gallant Srikanth was hardly any match to Indonesia’s world no. 4 Tommy Sugiarto in the quarterfinal match played on January 17, 2014. In other quarterfinal games; top seed Lee Chong Wei downed Du Pengyu of China 21-9, 21-15; Jan Jorgensen defeated Kento Momota of Japan 24-22, 22-20 and Kenichi Tago of Japan beat the Chinese Chen Long 21-18, 9-21, 21-10. In the semifinals Sugiarto will play Tago while Lee Chong Wei will face Jorgensen.
The semifinalists in women’s singles feature 3 Chinese players, Li Xuerui, Yao Xuen and Wang Shixian. The only non-Chinese is Yeon Ju Bae of Korea. For the two places in the final, the Korean Yeon Ju Bae will meet Wang Shixian, while the other semifinal will be an all Chinese affair between Li Xuerui and Yao Xuen.