In a much-awaited battle between two former world champions, Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon went down fighting to Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in a Group B encounter at the BWF World Tour Finals 2018 in Guangzhou, China on Thursday.
The Thai No. 1 did have the early lead but failed to sustain the momentum once the 2015 champion Okuhara made her comeback, eventually losing the match 21-14, 11-21, 14-21 in one hour and five minutes.
This was Okuhara’s sixth win over Intanon in 10 meetings. The Japanese next meets the Fuzhou China Open champion Chen Yufei, who lost her second consecutive match of the tournament. World No. 16 Michelle Li outlasted the third-ranked shuttler 16-21, 21-18, 21-17 in one hour and 11 minutes.
At the end of the day’s play, Okuhara leads the Group B standings ahead of Intanon.
There was a huge shock on day two of the BWF World Tour Finals 2018 as India’s PV Sindhu stunned the World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying 14-21, 21-16, 21-18 for her first win over the Chinese Taipei ace in two years.
Defending champion Akane Yamaguchi bounced back from a loss to register a commanding 21-10, 21-10 win over Beiwen Zhang.
Sindhu now leads the Group A standings and is followed by Tai in the second place.
Double defeat for Indonesians in men’s singles
The Southeast Asian shuttlers did not enjoy a good day in men’s singles as all of them suffered defeats. World No. 7 Indonesian Anthony Sinisuka Ginting was beaten 8-21, 19-21 by the All England Open champion Shi Yuqi.
World No. 10 Tommy Sugiarto failed to recover from the marathon match that he played on Wednesday and could provide little resistance to India’s Sameer Verma, collapsing to a 16-21, 7-21 loss.
World No. 1 Kento Momota pummelled Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen 21-15, 21-7 in 43 minutes.
In Group A, Shi Yuqi is the top-placed player while Ginting is languishing at the bottom. Son Wan Ho occupies the second spot after a hard-fought 18-21, 21-11, 21-14 comeback win over the top seed Chou Tien Chen.
Group B is led by Momota, who is now flawless with two wins in as many matches. Sameer Verma is now placed second and needs to win his final match to qualify for the semi-finals.
Indonesia’s World No. 1 men’s doubles pair of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo’s 11-match winning streak came to an end after they suffered an 18-21, 22-24 defeat at the hands of the world champions Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen of China.
The Indonesians had come to the BWF World Tour Finals 2018 on the back of wins at the China Open and the Hong Kong Open. With this loss, the defending champions are now in second position in Group A and could lose out on a semi-final berth if they don’t win their final group match.
Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia did not have any trouble, though. They easily beat Liao Min Chun and Su Ching-Heng 21-18, 21-14.
In women’s doubles, the Thai combine of Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai beat Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva 21-16, 21-18.
Thailand had delight in mixed doubles too as their World No. 7 pair of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai secured a 21-16, 21-19 win over Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith.
Also winning on day two of the BWF World Tour Finals 2018 were Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying. The two needed just 37 minutes to inflict a 21-14, 21-12 defeat upon Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja.