Pictured: Lee Zii Jia, Malaysia. Photo Credit: Choey.
The drama started to unfold on day three of the SATHIO GROUP Australian Badminton Open as the top seed and tournament favourite was knocked out of the men’s singles.
In a match that was essentially a decider to see who would claim the 8th spot at this year’s HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2022, top seed Lee Zia Jia (Malaysia) and Lu Guang Zu (China) had it all to play for. While Lee is ranked 2nd in the world to Lu’s 19, Lu is ranked 8th in the World Tour Rankings, to Lee’s 9.
Both players delivered a spectacle in front of an electric crowd, with Lee taking the first game in extension, before Lu forced a decider. The third game had barley one point in it until 14-14 when two injections of three consecutive points helped Lu race to the finish line.
- Lu Guang Zu (CHN) vs Lee Zii Jia (MAS) 20-22 21-15 21-16
“First of all, I think I played quite well today. These two weeks are crucial to secure the positions in the next games, so it means a lot and I hoped to get the victory. Although I lost the first set, I still kept going on my tactic and achieved a good result. In the third end, he might have felt tired, but I still kept playing in my own style, which might have limited his attacks. I also felt more relaxed afterwards. I was happy to win. ”, says Lu Guan Zu.
Oceania’s interest in this week’s HSBC BWF World Tour 300 tournament whittled down to one singles player and one doubles pair, Nathan Tang and the Tjonadi sisters – both from Australia. Oceania’s men’s singles runner up and wildcard entry this year, Nathan, went right down to the wire against fellow compatriot Jie Ying Chan. At only 17-years-old, Jie showed little nerves on this prestigious occasion and held one match point. However, Tang’s calm and collected performance helped him to recover and take the match on his first time of asking.
- Nathan Tang (AUS) vs Jie Ying Chan (AUS) 18-21 21-17 22-20
Meanwhile, the Tjonadi sisters (Sydney and Victoria) received another walkover to see them into the quarterfinals, following the unfortunate withdrawal of Japanese first seeds Nami Matsuyama and Chicaru Shida due to injury.
Elsewhere, Wendy Chen and Tiffany Ho bowed out of the last 16 in the women’s singles, leaving Wendy in a favorable position for the Oceania Tour 2022 women’s singles prize, which is confirmed after this week’s tournament (being the fifth and final installment of the Oceania Tour 2022).
- Han Yue (CHN) vs Wendy Chen (AUS) 21-6 21-10
- Saena Kawakami (JPN) vs Tiffany Ho (AUS) 21-13 21-4
Across the doubles draws, a handful of the other pairs from Australia and New Zealand yielded to the more experienced and favored pairs in today’s round of 16.
- Chang Ko-Chi/Lee Chih Chen (TPE) vs Jack Wang/Erena Calder-Hawkins (NZL) 21-15 21-8
- Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi (MAS) vs Ricky Cheng/Jack Wang (NZL) 21-6 21-18
- Yuki Fukushiman/Sayaka Hirota (JPN) vs Majan Almazan/Tiffany Ho (AUS) 21-3 21-3
- Fang-Chih Lee/Fang-Jen Lee (TPE) vs Kenneth Choo/Ming Chuen Lim (AUS) 21-14 21-11
One other shock upset fell in the women’s doubles. Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chia Hsin and Teng Chun Hsun (winners of last month’s YONEX Bendigo International 2022) are on track to boost their growing world ranking (currently at 46) after defeating the seventh seeds and world number 16 duo, Rin Iwanaga and Kiw Nakanishi in two straight games.
- Lee Chia Hsin/Teng Chun Hsun (TPE) vs Rin Iwanaga/Kie Nakanishi (JPN) 21-15 21-14
Another pair to keep a close eye on this week is the Aimsaard sisters. Two weeks ago the pair won the HYLO Open 2022 and today they made light work of their Canadian opponents.
- Benyapa Aimsaard/Nuntakarn Aimsaard (THA) vs Rachel Honderich/Kristen Tsai (CAN) 21-9 21-12
As the evening progressed, it became clear that Weng Hong Yang (China) was no match for his fellow compatriot Shi Yu Qi in Australia, who is finding the form which led him to world number 2 four years ago (currently at 29). Similarly, the reigning Olympic men’s doubles champions (Lee/Wang) disposed of their Japanese opponents in two comfortable games spanning over 34 minutes.
- Shi Yu Qi (CHN) vs Weng Hong Yang (CHN) 21-14 21-7
- Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin (TPE) vs Keiichiro Matsui/Yoshinori Takeuchi (JPN) 21-10 21-9
Finally, the last match of the evening started as a game of two halves as the second seed Loh Kean Yew aimed to prevent another major casualty. The looming qualification of the World Tour Finals was not as much of a worry for the already qualified Singaporean and he looked like he was in for an easy win after the opening game. But suddenly, Li was able to find the answers to get past Loh’s speedy footwork and steep smashes to retaliate and set the game level. To the delight of the crowd, the match came right down to the wire as Li held two match points at 20-18. However, a couple of bald decisions to leave the fast (and every so slightly wide) drives from Li helped Loh to recover and take the game on his second time of asking.
- Loh Kean Yew (SGP) vs Li Shi Feng (CHN) 21-10 12-21 23-21
“It was close and he played a very good game and I am happy I won in the end. He got into the rhythm much better and was more patient in the second game. I’m just focusing on my own match and always taking it one point at a time”, says Loh Kean Yew.
View all results from today’s round of 16 matches on Tournament Software.
Day Four – Quarterfinals
The quarterfinals will begin at 3pm (AEDT) on Friday 18 November 2022. Follow all results and draws on Tournament Software.
All matches will be available to watch on the live stream via the BWF TV YouTube Channel.
Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #ABO22. More photos from the tournament are available to view in the Photo Albums on Badminton Oceania’s Facebook page.