World champions Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong crashed to one of their quickest defeats this year as their campaign at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2019 started in lacklustre fashion.
Zheng and Huang were evidently below par as they went down to Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino, whom they had beaten six times in a row. The Japanese pocketed the Group B win 21-15 21-15 in just 33 minutes.
“They made so many simple mistakes,” said a surprised Higashino.
The second seeds’ quick defeat was the second unexpected result in Group B on the opening day’s second session, after Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja stopped in-form compatriots Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti 21-11 21-19.
Match of the Session
Nozomi Okuhara survived a torrid test by Tai Tzu Ying in an hour-long match, 15-21 12-18 21-19 in a Group B match in women’s singles.
Tai would have left frustrated with herself, for she was by turns brilliant and profligate. She conjured a magical spell of play late in the opening game to stump Okuhara; she held a hefty lead in the second only to fall prey to her own inconsistent spells. She even had the lead at the end of the third game, but some indeterminate play – and tough luck – saw Tai slip at the end of an intensely-fought match.
Another close battle saw Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo avenge last year’s defeat to Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen at this event.
The Minions’ campaign last year had ended with their defeat to the Chinese, who had gone on to claim the title. Today Li and Liu had the measure of their opponents, with Liu in particular exerting his presence at the net. But for a poor spell late in the match, the Chinese had stayed in the challenge. In a trice Gideon and Sukamuljo converted their half-chances, taking the match 21-18 14-21 21-18.
“My opponent makes a lot of risky judgements. I know about that, so when I play her, I expect that she will make risky judgements. I just had to stay patient and was helped by her misjudgements,” said Nozomi Okuhara.