Lin Falters Before Christie – Day 2: TAHOE China Open 2017
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO

Five-time champion Lin Dan crashed out in the opening round of his home World Superseries event – the TAHOE China Open 2017 – today, to Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie.

With Christie having 11 match points a hush fell over the second day’s crowd in Fuzhou at the Tahoe China Open, but then the jittery Christie gave them hope as he faltered on the next seven points. Just when it seemed Lin could pull off a miracle, he played a weak shot wide of the sideline, allowing the young Indonesian (featured image) his moment of glory at 21-19 21-16.

The victory was reward for the patience he showed through the early part of the match. Refusing to be drawn into a quick-fire battle with the wily Lin, the young Indonesian played for the rallies, using his sliced drops and going for the big hit only when the opening was worked out.

The game was finely balanced at 19-all, but then Christie conjured an immaculate drop shot that Lin could only watch, and the Indonesian grabbed the first game with a smash to his opponent’s forehand flank.

With the loss of the game, Lin’s play fell apart. The Chinese could barely do a thing right; his famed control deserted him and he struggled to return Christie’s shots to his body. At 20-9 the result appeared a foregone conclusion, until Christie’s nerves nearly undid all the work he’d put in. Lin, though, couldn’t capitalise as another wayward shot saw Christie through in straight games.

“When we shook hands before the match, I felt his hand was cold and I sensed he was nervous,” said Christie, who lost to Lin in straight games at their last meeting in June. “I realised that even though he was a past World and Olympic champion, he could get nervous too. So that made me confident.

“One of the best days of my life, I beat Lin Dan on his home crowd. I didn’t expect Lin Dan to make so many mistakes in the second game. It was quite unusual, so I lost focus and he came back as he had nothing to lose. The key was to win the first game. If Lin Dan had won the first game, he would’ve been more confident. I just kept on attacking at the end. He played a bit faster in the second, but he made so many mistakes.”

There was some disappointment for Indonesia, though, as Anthony Ginting fell in a close battle – 22-20 21-18 to Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long, who will next play Christie.

Lin’s contemporary Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) had little trouble in countering the challenge of Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen Hao (21-5 21-7); the No.7 seed will face recent nemesis Brice Leverdez (France) in the second round.

A more bitter blow for the Indonesians was the loss of Yonex French Open champions Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu to new Korean Women’s Doubles combination Lee So Hee/Lee Hye Rin. The Indonesians blew five match points and were inconsolable as they walked off after their 81-minute marathon: 19-21 21-7 23-21.

“We tried our best,” said Polii, struggling to come to terms with the loss even as her partner was inconsolable. “But this is the game. We were too hasty. We’d taken the lead, we had the game, we were ahead in the third, but we lost. Well we must live with it, we must go through this. We regret the way we played at the end.”

In the top half of the draw, No.6 seeds Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto (Japan) eased past Korea’s other scratch combination, Shin Seung Chan/Lee Yu Rim, 21-16 21-16, and will take on Malaysia’s Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei. The Malaysians prevailed over Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Kai Hsin/Hung Shih Han 15-21 21-19 21-11.

In Women’s Singles, India’s Saina Nehwal had a surprisingly one-sided victory over USA’s Beiwen Zhang, 21-12 21-13; the Indian will face No.5 seed Akane Yamaguchi (Japan), who was similarly dominant over China’s Chen Xiaoxin, 21-12 21-14.

In Women’s Singles, India’s Saina Nehwal had a surprisingly one-sided victory over USA’s Beiwen Zhang, 21-12 21-13; the Indian will face No.5 seed Akane Yamaguchi (Japan), who was similarly dominant over China’s Chen Xiaoxin, 21-12 21-14.

Women’s Singles World champion Nozomi Okuhara retired after playing just one point against Chinese qualifier Guo Fangjie, while World Championships silver medallist Pusarla V Sindhu gritted her way past Sayaka Sato 24-22 23-21.

China’s new partnerships delivered on the day.

The hosts recorded a few significant victories, prominent among them being upset results over Mixed Doubles top seeds Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto and Men’s Doubles No.3 seeds Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda.

Jordan/Susanto were felled by Zhang Nan and new partner Liu Xuanxuan in straight games, 21-18 21-18, while Kamura/Sonoda were also blitzed in straight games by Zheng Siwei/He Jiting, 21-17 21-16.

Other home pairs to win on the day included Chai Biao/Wang Zekang in Men’s Doubles; He Jiting/Du Yue, Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong, Wang Zekang/Xu Ya, Chen Lu/Tang Jinhua in Mixed Doubles and Du Yue/Li Yinhui in Women’s Doubles.

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