Last week, the badminton scene shifted from Delhi to Singapore for the $ 300,000 OUE sponsored Singapore Super Series 2014. Just as in Delhi, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and China’s Li Xuerui are the top men and women seeds in this tournament. While Chong Wei and Li Xuerui are already in the semifinals, winning all their previous round matches in contrasting styles, there were a few dramatic upsets.
In his quarterfinal match played today, the world’s no. 1 player simply outplayed Tannongsak Saensomboonsk of Thailand 21-8, 21-14 in just 30 minutes. However, unseeded Indonesian Simon Santoso and India’s Kidambi Srikanth are two entrants in this year’s men’s singles semifinals, who have come to the round of four after beating their more accomplished opponents. Though Santoso is the winner of the recently concluded Malaysian Grand Prix Gold tournament, he had to come to the ongoing tournament through qualification rounds. But his progress at Singapore Super Series has been as spectacular as that of the world no. 1 Chong Wei. In the first quarterfinal today, Santoso beat Korean Dong Keun Lee 21-18, 21-15. But a bigger flutter was caused by India’s Kidambi Srikanth, who has had a great tournament so far. World no. 22 Srikanth began his campaign by beating world no. 21 Takuma Ueda in the first round and ran into 7th seeded Tien Minh Nguyen of Vietnam in the next round. In a three-set duel Srikanth finally overpowered Nguyen 18-21, 21-15, 21-8. This evening Srikanth’s quarterfinal opponent was Yun Hu of Hong Kong. It was a tough match for Srikanth, who lost the opening set. Not to be outdone, Srikanth fought back valiantly in the next two sets to score a thrilling 17-21, 21-14, 21-19 victory over Hu. In the semifinal tomorrow, Srikanth plays the great Lee Chong Wei. The fourth semifinal spot was taken by no. 5 seed Pengyu Du, who easily defeated India’s Sai Praneeth. Like Santoso, Praneeth also came into the main draw after the qualifying rounds. The second men’s singles semifinal will be played between Pengyu Du and Santoso tomorrow.
In the women’s singles, Saina Nehwal of India was the only women seed not to feature in the quarterfinal line-up. The 7th seeded Saina crashed out in the first round itself, losing her match to Japan’s Eriko Hirose. The Japanese is not an ordinary player but Saina is rated higher than her in BWF rankings. No one expected Saina to lose to the Japanese woman. After easily winning the first set, Saina lost her way, committed too many unforced errors and finally went down in three sets, 21-16, 15-21, 11-21. Saina’s loss was the gain for the world no. 12 Li Han of China, who defeated Hirose in the second round and finally reached the quarterfinal by beating no. 3 seed Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand 21-14, 21-12. Except, Li Han, all other quarterfinalists justified their seedings by tournament organizers. In other quarterfinal matches played today, top seed, Li Xuerui defeated the sixth seed from Chinese Taipei Tzu Ying Tai 21-10 21-13 in 27 minutes and the Korean no. 5 seed Ji Hyun Sung got the better of no. 4 seed and compatriot Yeon Ju Bae 21-12, 21-9 in just over half an hour. Eighth seeded India’s PV Sindhu played the fourth quarterfinal against the defending champion and no. 2 seed Yihan Wang of China. Sindhu didn’t play badly but her lack of experience was exploited by the Chinese woman, who finally prevailed 21-19, 21-15. Sindhu trailed in the first set but came back strongly in later stages. In the second set, Sindhu had a good lead but poor anticipation and undue errors at crucial junctures went against her. Tomorrow is the schedule for the semifinals with the finals planned for Sunday April 13, 2014.