India’s Saina Nehwal crossed another hurdle by beating Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in the quarterfinal of the 2015 China Open on Friday November 13. The reigning champion is now two matches away from retaining her 2014 crown. With world no.1 Carolina Marin losing to no.5 seed Wang Shixian, the women’s semifinal line-up has three Chinese women besides Saina, who next plays Wang Yihan for a place in the final. In men’s draw, China’s top seed and world no.1 Chen Long defeated Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and another Chinese Lin Dan accounted for Hong Kong’s Hu Yun. In two other matches, Malaysia’s outlasted world no.2 Jan o Jorgensen and Korea’s Son Wan Ho defeated China’s Shi Yuqi. Chinese shuttlers also reached semifinals of all doubles events and their dominating presence signifies the hold that the Asian nation has in this sport. On Saturday, it will become clear as to how many Chinese players reach the final.
Saina Nehwal played better in the quarterfinal against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara than she had in her earlier three matches. Thought the doughty Japanese brought out her best at the start, she couldn’t match Saina’s tactics. In the first game, Saina lost her service and allowed Okuhara to dominate her. The Japanese raced to a 5-2 lead before Saina came back to level the scores at 5-5. From this point onwards, Saina managed to control the game and keep leading until she pocketed the first game 21-16. In the second game, Saina didn’t allow much leeway to Okuhara and never surrendered the her lead at any time. After a couple of delicately placed drop shots from Saina, the Japanese lost her rhythm and played a second fiddle to the Indian. Riding on her improved game and numerous unforced errors from Okuhara, Saina took the second game and the match 21-16, 21-13. For a place in the final, Saina will have to beat old foe Wang Yihan in the semifinal on Saturday. Yihan reached the semifinal by easily disposing off Taiwan’s no.4 seeded Tai Tzu Ying 21-18, 21-17.
World champion Carolina Marin had a tough encounter with Wang Shixian in another quarterfinal. In a 70-minute match, Shixian won the first game 21-13. But Marin made a comeback and won the second game despite raucous home support for the Chinese. However, Shixian nullified Marin’s efforts in the decider and walked off with a 21-13, 10-21, 21-10 victory. Wang Shixian next takes on compatriot and ex-world no.1 Li Xuerui in the semifinal. The 6th seeded Li had an easier time in her quarterfinal match against no.3 seeded Korean Sung Ji Hyun in the 21-16, 21-13 victory achieved in 37 minutes.
In men’s draw, top-seeded Chinese Chen Long stopped Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen with a 50-minute 21-17, 21-13 victory to take on Korea’s Son Wan Ho in the semifinal. No.3 seeded Lin Dan powered his way past Hong Kong’s Hu Yun in three games. The Hong Kong star gave the Super Dan a few jitters before the seasoned Chinese finished victor at 21-8, 10-21, 21-17. Lin Dan’s semifinal opponent will be Malaysian superstar Lee Chong Wei, who also took three games and 53 minutes before beating Denmark’s world no.2 Jan O Jorgensen 21-11, 11-21, 21-10.
In men’s doubles, no.6 seeded Chinese pair of Chai Biao/Hong Wei defeated Japanese duo Hirokatsu Hashimoto/Noriyasu Hirata 21-16, 21-11; Japan’s no.5 seeds Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa defeated Chinese combo of Wang Yilv/Zhang Wen 21-11, 21-14; Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Cheol defeated China’s Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen 21-18, 21-14 and another Korean pair of Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang defeated Denmark’s Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen 19-21, 21-13, 21-9.
In women’s doubles, top-seeded Japanese duo of Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi defeated Malaysia’s Amelia Alicia/Soong Fie Cho 21-17, 21-12; Korea’s Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee defeated Denmark’s no.3 seeds Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl 21-18, 21-16; China’s Tang Yuanting/Yu Yang defeated compatriots Huang Dongping/Ou Dongni 21-9, 21-17 and in another all-Chinese quarterfinal, no.5 seeds Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei upset no.2 seeds Luo Ying/Luo Yu 16-21, 21-15, 21-12.
In the mixed doubles matches on Friday, China’s no.4 seeds Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin defeated England’s no.6 seeds Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock 21-10, 21-18; Denmark’s no. 5 seeds Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen defeated China’s Liu Yuchen/Ou Dongni 21-13, 24-22; China’s no.3 seeds Xu Chen/Ma Jin defeated Denmark’s Niclas Nohr/Sara Thygesen 27-25, 21-19 and China’s no.1 seeds Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei outlasted Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto 19-21, 21-13, 21-16.