French Open 2018: Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon falls; mixed doubles pair causes big upset

Thailand had mixed fortunes on Day 4 of the French Open 2018 as both Ratchanok Intanon and Kantaphon Wangcharoen bowed out of singles but their mixed doubles pair of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai pulled off a stunning upset to enter the semi-finals of this Super 750 tournament in Paris.

Chen Yufei has proved to be a nemesis for the former World No. 1 Intanon of late. In two years, she has notched up five wins in six career meetings with the Thai. Four out of those six matches went the distance.

Friday was no exception as the young Chinese World No. 5 produced the same effort to register a comeback 16-21, 21-16, 21-13 win in 62 minutes.

The fourth seeded Yufei goes on to meet the top seed and World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying, who saved three game points in the first game to pull off a 22-20, 21-11 win over India’s Saina Nehwal.

Indonesia’s rising star Gregoria Mariska Tunjung’s brave run came to an end in the quarter-finals due a retirement. The world junior champion called it quits, trailing 15-21, 6-11 against the second seed Akane Yamaguchi.

The Japanese will take on the seventh seeded He Bingjiao in the semi-finals. The 21-year-old Chinese knocked out the third seed and World No. 2 PV Sindhu 21-13, 21-16 in a late night match on Friday.

Christie and Wangcharoen depart from French Open 2018 men’s singles

Asian Games gold medalist Jonatan Christie fought valiantly against the reigning Olympic champion Chen Long only to succumb to an 18-21, 21-12, 16-21 defeat at the end of a 67-minute marathon.

Kantaphon Wangcharoen too fell in three grueling games, with Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke completing a 12-21, 21-11, 21-17 comeback victory in 1 hour 18 minutes.

The losses brought the curtains down on Indonesia and Thailand’s campaigns in men’s singles at the French Open 2018.

Up next for Gemke is 2016 winner Shi Yuqi while Chen Long faces the World No. 1 Kento Momota. The Japanese brought India’s Kidambi Srikanth’s title defence to a grinding halt with a 21-16, 21-19 win. Yuqi sent former World No. 1 Son Wan Ho packing 21-11, 21-13.

Superb show by Thai pair; Indonesia has title hopes alive in doubles

The big news in doubles came from the mixed doubles section, where Thailand’s World No. 10 pair of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai stormed back from a game down to record a 16-21, 21-18, 21-15 win over the second seeds and World No. 2 duo of Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping.

The Thai pair has been gaining in confidence over the past few months, with it culminating in their run to the Denmark Open final last week. This week, they have simply carried on from there.

There was another huge upset in mixed doubles as the Indonesian third seeds Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir were shown the door 16-21, 21-16, 18-21 by Japan’s Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino.

There was, however, no stopping the Indonesian men’s doubles World No. 1 pair. Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo continue their unhindered progress as they look to win yet another title this year to add to the seven they have already bagged.

They were a dominant 21-17, 21-11 winner over seventh seeds Chen Hung Ling and Wang Chi-Lin, that set them up for a semi-final showdown with India’s promising pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty.

Indonesia has title hopes alive in women’s doubles as well with the fourth seeds Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu making it through to the semi-finals. They had to battle for 1 hour 18 minutes to edge Denmark’s Maiken Fruergaard and Sara Thygesen 18-21, 21-16, 21-12 in a superb show of resilience.

Up next for them are the Japanese fifth seeds Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara.

Japan did not have a flawless day in women’s doubles as their second seeds Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi collapsed in an absolutely one-sided match. Bulgaria’s Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva showed the Rio Olympic champions the way out in a 21-8, 21-16 win, a scoreline few could have predicted.

Cover photo courtesy of BWFBadminton

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