Tai Crashes Out – Day 2: VICTOR China Open 2018

Women’s Singles top seed Tai Tzu Ying suffered a second successive early-round loss, crashing out of the VICTOR China Open 2018 today to local hope Gao Fangjie.

The World No.1, who won the Asian Games in late August, was a second round casualty last week in Japan to China’s Chen Xiaoxin. Today, in the opening round against the 19-year-old Gao Fangjie, the top seed once again struggled with movement and placement of shots, frequently hitting wide of the lines.

After a disappointing opening game, Tai did show greater initiative in the second, with her whippy forehands catching Gao off-guard. Tai looked in control at 12-8 before the errors crept in once again and Gao finished it on the 37 minute, 21-17 21-16.

The young Chinese was surprised at the ease of her victory. “I didn’t expect to win, because I didn’t play well, but she too was not at her best level and that’s why I won,” said Gao. “She made a lot of unforced errors and was not agile. I tried not to overthink. As the younger and less experienced player, my approach was to be aggressive.”

A similar fate nearly befell Women’s Doubles top seeds Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota before the Japanese squeaked past Indonesia’s Anggia Shitta Awanda/Mahadewi Istirani Ni Ketut 21-16 14-21 26-24.

The Indonesians had the lead for most of the third game and even held match points at 23-22 and 24-23, but the Japanese relied on their rock-solid consistency to deny them any openings and emerged victorious after 66 minutes.

“Despite being ahead in the third game, there were moments where we could not finish off the rallies when we had clear chances,” said Awanda. “We tried to think of one point at a time, but I think we lost the mental game.”

While Tai succumbed early for the second straight week, Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara showed no fatigue despite featuring in the Japan Open final on Sunday. Okuhara, the eighth seed, was speedy and precise in a quick dismantling of Canada’s Michelle Li, 21-12 21-13.

In the same quarter, World Junior champion Gregoria Mariska Tunjung (Indonesia) survived a thrilling finish against China’s Chen Xiaoxin. Both youngsters showed pluck in the closing stages of the hour-long match, daring to play the shuttle tight at the net and going for the lines. It was Tunjung who was the more consistent of the two, and she ultimately finished with a smash to close it out 12-21 21-19 23-21.

Mariska will take on USA’s Beiwen Zhang, who battled past Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in three hard-fought games.

Fukushima and Hirota’s was the closest of all the Women’s Doubles matches as all the other seeds in action completed their opening assignments in straight games.

Indonesia had another good day across categories. In Men’s Doubles, Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan needed just 30 minutes to trounce China’s Zhang Nan/Liu Cheng, 21-19 21-14, in a battle between former World champions.

Two other Indonesian pairs joined them in round two. Berry Angriawan and Hardianto Hardianto held off sixth seeds Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding (Denmark) in an hour-long battle, while Ricky Karandasuwardi and Angga Pratama summarily dismissed seventh seeds Takuto Inoue/Yuki Kaneko 21-19 21-14 in 31 minutes.

Karandasuwardi returned for the Mixed Doubles, partnering Debby Susanto to a 21-15 19-21 21-16 victory over Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai.

India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa avenged their Commonwealth Games loss to England’s Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith, beating them 21-13 20-22 21-17.

In the same quarter, Malaysia’s Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing prevailed in a hard contest over Denmark’s Niclas Nohr/Sara Thygesen, 22-20 21-18. They will meet fourth seeds Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet (Hong Kong), who progressed beating Russia’s Rodion Alimov/Alina Daveletova 21-14 21-19.

In Men’s Singles, Lee Hyun Il continued to hold a spell on young Dane Anders Antonsen, who lost his third match in as many meetings against the Korean veteran. Exerting admirable control over the shuttle in difficult conditions, Lee employed the right shifts in pace and lines of attack to wear down Antonsen, who rued his missed opportunities. Lee emerged winner at 18-21 21-19 21-18 and will next take on second seed Shi Yuqi, who made his way past Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto.

“He was the better man, more clever in the end,” said Antonsen. “It’s frustrating, I had a lead in the second and third games and I should have closed it out. He has a lot of years of experience, he knows what to do when it gets close in the end. I like those situations when it’s close, but today I just didn’t have what it takes to win.”

In the same quarter, Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie (Indonesia) fought past Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama in three games, while Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long enjoyed a quick victory over India’s HS Prannoy, 21-16 21-12.

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