Top Seeds Eclipsed – Day 4: Yonex French Open 2017
Saturday, October 28, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO

Yet another Japanese Women’s Doubles pair announced their arrival on the big stage with Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara making the semi-finals of the Yonex French Open 2017 today.

Ironically, their feat was at the expense of Japan’s best pair, Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi. In 51 gruelling minutes, Olympic champions Matsutomo and Takahashi were given a taste of their own medicine as Nagahara and Matsumoto (featured image) held firm to take the match 21-18 21-17.

Their semi-final opponents will be DANISA Denmark Open champions Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan, who steamrolled Chae Yoo Jung/Kim Hye Rin 21-10 21-10 in an all-Korean quarter-final.

Lane/Pugh Impress

After their upset of Denmark Open champions Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet yesterday, Ben Lane and Jessica Pugh went in to the quarter-final against Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen full of beans. The England pair stayed with their feared opponents, not letting the loss of the opening game deter them, nor the fact that Zheng and Chen narrowed a 12-18 deficit to 19-all. A poke by Pugh saw the shuttle dribble over and gave them the second game, and they used that momentum to match the Chinese until 14-all.

It was just a couple of loose shots that turned the match from there. Zheng and Chen smelled blood and zeroed in on the kill – the score (21-18 19-21 21-16) an accurate reflection of how the England pair lost it at the very end.

“We’re disappointed now, but overall we had a good tournament,” said Lane. “We had our moments, but they changed something after 14-all. They got the initiative at the start of every rally, it’s very hard to get back after that.”

Tai, Pusarla in Semis

Two results of last week were reversed in Women’s Singles. India’s Pusarla V Sindhu met a tame challenge from China’s Chen Yufei and eased through 21-14 21-14, while top seed Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei) also had it surprisingly easy over Denmark Open winner Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand), 21-17 21-12.

“It didn’t go right for me,” said Intanon. “I just couldn’t control the shuttle. I tried to rally but it wasn’t working. I don’t know what happened with myself. It wasn’t my best performance. Of course I had less time to recover after Denmark, but if I have to play two tournaments in a row I have to be fit. I wasn’t tired today, though, so it’s hard to explain what went wrong.”

Stiff Workout for Danes

In Men’s Doubles, defending champions Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen were given a mighty scare by emerging Indian pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty.

The Indians, blown away in the opening game, settled down to display some clever badminton. Showing greater patience and anticipating correctly, the Indians had the Danes in a tangle with their touch at the forecourt. Shetty in particular was a sensation at the net, causing his opposite number all kinds of problems, while Rankireddy’s powerful smash did plenty of damage. At 17-all in the third the match was on a knife edge, but once again the Danes showed their mastery of such situations. Boe took charge, darting to the net to clinch the vital lead at 18-17 and the Danes built on that to take the match 21-5 17-21 21-17.

In the top half, World champions Liu Cheng/Zhang Nan enjoyed another straight-games victory, this time over Japan’s Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi, 21-15 21-19; the Chinese face Chinese Taipei’s Lee Jhe-Huei/Lee Yang in the last-four. Lee/Lee outclassed Indonesia’s Muhammad Rian Ardianto/Fajar Alfian 21-11 21-19.

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