China Masters: Shi, Ginting Bite the Dust

Christo Popov continued to add to his growing stature in singles with an impressive straight-games takedown of home favourite Shi Yu Qi in the second round of the LI-NING China Masters 2023.

It was a day of upsets, with second seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting falling to Lin Chun-Yi, and the exit of An Se Young earlier in the day.

Lanky left-hander Lin Chun-Yi executed a 21-18 21-17 takedown of Ginting to progress to the quarterfinals against Zhao Jun Peng.

Lin Chun-Yi upset Ginting

Popov’s result, only his second entry into the quarterfinals of a Super 750, will mean invaluable ranking points as he contests with compatriots such as his brother Toma Junior  and Arnaud Merkle. Christo is currently No.24 in the Race to Paris rankings, while Toma Junior is No.19.

Christo has beaten other top 10 players like Loh Kean Yew and HS Prannoy this year.

“The first three-four shots were key,” said Popov, whose earlier Super 750 quarterfinal was at the Singapore Open this year. “I’ve been losing some times against good opponents as I’ve been losing focus, so today I’m proud that I could have the right mindset and tactics through the game. I’m of course very happy, because this is my second quarterfinal in a Super 750, and also it means points for Olympic qualification. But it’s not over, we have to recover as quick as we can and prepare for tomorrow.”

Christo acknowledged the friendly rivalry with his brother as they sought to stake claim for the singles place.

“It will lift up my spirits. It’s unusual because I’m competing with my brother. So I’m happy that maybe now I’m getting ranking (points)…. He did well in the European leg, here I’m doing good, and obviously it’s a good fight between brothers. It keeps me motivated now to continue and it gives me hope, which is the most important thing right now.”

Among the other engrossing matches was an ultramarathon between Anders Antonsen and Kodai Naraoka, which ended on a heartbreaking note for the Dane. Having kept his chances alive until the end of the 110-minute affair, and after saving two match points, Antonsen blew a kill at the net with Naraoka at his mercy.

Kodai Naraoka

“A long one, that’s his game style, trying to run me down,” said Antonsen. “I knew that was going to be the game, and I don’t think he succeeded in running me down, but he just got the better of me.

“I’m super annoyed, obviously the last one is very hard to swallow right now. Huge opportunity at the net and I didn’t kill it, so one of those moments I will remember for a long time.”

Tai Retires With Injury

In women’s singles, fourth seed Tai Tzu Ying retired in her second successive tournament, with Zhang Yi Man making the quarterfinals at her expense.

“I had retired last week in Kumamoto too. I did not want to force myself as we still have the World Tour Finals in December,” Tai said.

“We had a lot of tournaments in the second half of the year, such as the Asian Games and World Championships, which were important considering there are Olympic qualification points at stake. So I just need to get enough rest.”


BWF World Tour News

Title Sponsor