The second day of the Singapore Badminton Open saw many heavyweights march through to the last 16 including all the world No. 1s.
Leading the charge was men’s top seed Kento Momota (JPN), who faced 2017 Singapore Open champion Sai Praneeth (IND) in what was an enthralling first-round contest. Momota survived to win the match 19-21, 21-14, 22-20.
The pair previously met three times with Praneeth victorious in two of them. This latest victory means Momota (above) draws level in their head-to-head record.
“My opponent was constantly attacking and I became a bit nervous. Japanese teams have been winning in this tournament and so I felt a bit more pressured to perform. There were good and bad times in the game. There was a point where I really thought that I was not going to win,” said Momota.
Fresh off her victory in the Malaysia Open last week, women’s world No.1 Tai Tzu-Ying (TPE) edged out Zhang Beiwen (USA) 21-14, 10-21, 21-18.
“I feel that I did not perform my best today as I was not feeling well since yesterday, but I tried my best. I’m feeling very grateful to my supporters, who were cheering me on. There were many spectators today, which is unbelievable,” said Tai.
Mixed doubles world No. 1s Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong initially had a close shave, narrowly taking the first game 21-18, but eventually they proved their mettle, brushing off Japanese pair Takuro Hoki and Wakana Nagahara 21-9 in the second game.
Defending Singapore Open champion Chou Tien Chen (TPE) got off to a great start by beating Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 21-18, 21-16. He will continue his title defence against Danish star Jan O Jorgensen in the next round.
The Singapore Open will see a new women’s singles champion crowned after title-holder Sayaka Takahashi (JPN) fell in the first round to 2012 Olympic Champion Li Xuerui (CHN).
Li, who suffered a severe knee injury in 2016 and was out of action for more than a year, beat the Japanese 21-13, 21-16.
“I previously faced her in the Canada Open and only won after three games, so I continued to
train hard because I know my opponent has fantastic ability,” said Li, who did not take her opponent lightly even though she has beaten her on three previous occasions.
Defending mixed doubles champions Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai are also on course for the title following a 21-18, 21-16 win against Indonesia’s Alfian Eko Prasetya and Marsheilla Gischa Islami.
Viktor Axelson vs Lin Dan
The biggest disappointment of the day came when the much-anticipated battle between Super Dan and the Great Dane ended prematurely. An angry 4,000-strong crowd booed Lin Dan (CHN) when he retired from the match due to “spasm on his left thigh muscle” when the score read 20-13 in the first
Viktor Axelson (DEN) advances to the next round as a result and will next face Kantaphon Wangcharoen (THA).
“I used up a considerable amount of stamina due to the Malaysia Open last week. I felt that I had to be prudent as the Sudirman Cup and the Olympics qualifying are coming up and I didn’t want to risk any serious injury,” said Lin (above, left).
Home fans will have more to cheer as local shuttlers continue to progress. Grace Chua came out on top in her match against Disha Gupta (USA), winning 21-19, 21-10.
Chua (above) said: “I feel I did okay, but I was a little nervous in the first game and made many little mistakes. I grew in confidence as the match went on and got the feel of it eventually. This is the first time I made it to the second round, so it definitely gives me more confidence.”
Singapore’s top women’s singles shuttler Yeo Jia Min also suffered an early exit after being defeated 21-18, 17-21, 21-15 by Ruselli Hartawan (IND). This was the third time the pair were meeting this year with Yeo only managing to win once.
Fellow Singaporean Jaslyn Hooi also lost 21-13, 21-8 against Chen Xiaoxin from China.
Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Loh Kean Hean kept their nerves to upset world no.36 Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy from India 21-13, 21-17.
“I feel that our opponents gave us a very tough fight. I have played against them before but with a different doubles pairing, and this is my first time winning against them. From my previous matches with them, I learnt some of their weaknesses and tactics to have an upper hand this time,” said Loh.
The Singaporean mixed doubles teams saw little joy as Andy Kwek and Citra Putri Sari Dewi bowed out of the tournament after losing 17-21, 21-14, 21-12 to Kohei Gondo and Ayane Kurihara from Japan.
Tan Wei Han and Danny Bawa Chrisnanta also fell to Japanese opponents after their 21-17, 23-21 loss to Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo.
Terry Hee and Crystal Wong also lost their match against Malaysian duo Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying 21-18, 22-20.