Top seed Carolina Marin battled her way through injury to the quarter finals of the badminton world championships in Jakarta Thursday, while Olympic champion Li Xuerui and Japan’s top-ranked pair were defeated in spectacular upsets.
Li, twice runner up at badminton’s premier event, became the highest-ranked casualty of the tournament thus far when Indian shuttler P.V. Sindhu stunned her in a marathon contest 21-17, 14-21, 21-17.
The devastated third seed had been seeking revenge — and an elusive world crown — after Marin upstaged her in last year’s championships, but badminton fans will now have to wait for that grudge rematch.
Xi’s shock exit takes a load off Marin, but it was a day of mixed fortunes for the world number one as she rolled her ankle during her third-round win over Taiwan’s Pai Yu Po.
The injury-prone Spaniard fell to the ground in pain after an awkward stumble in the first set, with several tense minutes passing before she gingerly returned to the court to win 21-11, 18-21, 21-17.
Marin will undergo physiotherapy on her ankle, but it’s an unwanted distraction as she seeks to defend her title less than a month after returning from injury.
“I just tried to not think about my ankle, because I was so scared, because maybe I could not play,” she said.
Fifth seed Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand was less fortunate, retiring mid-match against Indonesia’s Lindaweni Fanetri after sustaining an injury.
With Li out of the way and Marin under an injury cloud, second seed Saina Nehwal could pose a real threat for the top gong. The Indian shuttler progressed to the quarter finals Thursday along with fellow seeded players Tai Tzu Ying, Wang Yihan, Wang Shixian and Sung Ji Hyun.
– Double trouble –
It was a day of monumental upsets in the doubles, with Japan’s top-ranked women’s pair Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi and China’s second-seeded men’s duo Luo Ying and Luo Yu tumbling from the competition.
The Japanese were considered one of the few pairs capable of ending China’s stranglehold on the women’s doubles event, but they came unstuck against unseeded Malaysian duo Amelia Alicia Anscelly and Soong Fie Cho 21-15, 12-21, 21-14.
“We made so many mistakes, everything was bad,” Takahashi said.
Unseeded Japanese men’s pair Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao fared better, putting away China’s formidable Luo duo in a gritty three-set contest 18-21, 22-20, 21-19.
There have been casualties across the board in the doubles events in Jakarta, with men’s defending champions Shin Baek Choel and Ko Sung Hyun failing to make it beyond the second round and fourth-seeded Chinese pair Chai Biao and Hong Wei also bowing out early.
There were disappointments in the men’s singles too, with third-seed Srikanth Kidambi crumbling against 13th seed Hu Yun of Hong Kong 14-21, 21-17, 23-21 in a match that lasted more than an hour.
World number one and defending champion Chen Long thrashed Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 21-12, 21-7 to book a spot in the quarter finals.
He’s expected to coast into the semi finals where he’ll likely end the gold medal aspirations of fourth-seed Kento Momota of Japan, who made short work of Nguyen Tien Minh in his third round match.
Five-time world champion Lin Dan defeated 12th seed Hans-Kristian Vittinghus with ruthless efficiency, Jan O. Jorgensen put away ninth-seed Son Wan Ho of South Korea while fellow Dane Viktor Axelsen prevailed over India’s H.S. Prannoy.
But it was the sensational dismissal of eighth seed Wang Zhengming by recently returned Malaysian superstar Lee Chong Wei – his second proper scalp in 24 hours – that got tongues wagging.
Lee, unseeded for the first time in years after returning from an eight-month doping ban, looked hard to beat as he swept aside Zhengming 21-17, 21-19, but he insisted the field was wide open to anyone who wanted it.
“This year, in the men’s singles, everyone is better,” he said.
The quarter finals of the men’s and women’s singles and doubles gets underway in Jakarta on Friday. – Agence France-Presse