Kashyap’s outwitting of top seed Chen Long (pictured right) stood out, as did world No.12 Taufik Hidayat’s defeat by comeback kid Sony Dwi Kuncoro. World No.5 Lee Hyun Il too bit the dust, at the hands of Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus. The slew of upsets means that in the men’s singles, the highest seeds left are No.7 Simon Santoso and No.8 Du Pengyu.
Just over a year ago, Parupalli Kashyap was living through the worst point of his life. The loss of his sister would cause a deep wound in him and his badminton career seemed to drift.
Battling injuries and the pain within, Kashyap had a series of average performances, and even his status at the top-ranked Indian player was under threat. It all came to a head at the 2012 Yonex-Sunrise India Open in April, where he was one point away from losing to Boonsak Ponsana in the second round and waving goodbye to his dream of playing the London 2012 Olympic Games as the No.1 Indian.
A desperate fightback from that situation -- and bequeathed a walkover from Chen Jin in the next round – he found himself qualifying for the Olympics as compatriot Ajay Jayaram fell by the wayside in his quest.
And now – less than two months after that sudden turnaround – has come his career’s finest hour: a win over world No.3 Chen Long in the second round of the Indonesia Open Superseries Premier. It is a victory that will be recounted as one of India’s best men’s singles match wins, perhaps the best since Anup Sridhar’s World Championships upset of Taufik Hidayat in 2007.
Kashyap’s (pictured left) was a battle won in the head, through smart tactical planning and execution. The world No.26 was impeccable in denying the fast and powerful Chen Long the pace at which he revels: the Indian played soft, using a range of flicks, drops and net shots to leave Chen Long frustrated and short of ideas.
There were no fast and furious exchanges, which led the Chinese world No.3 to get uncharacteristically erratic and unable to find rhythm. Kashyap jabbed and parried, explored the angles, and hardly ever let Chen get under the shuttle to unleash his booming smash. At 18-13 in the second game came the rally of the match: Kashyap defended everything that Chen threw at him, and the world No.3 eventually smashed out.
While Kashyap was languishing in deep self-doubt last year, a former world top-ten player was likewise having problems of his own. Sony Dwi Kuncoro, once ranked 6, had fallen beyond 100, and few might have expected him to salvage his career after that.
At this OSIM BWF World Superseries Premier event would see another example of why it is unwise to ever write off a sportsperson. Kuncoro, now ranked No.45 and having beaten world No.5 Peter Gade on Wednesday, continued his surge upward as he sent Taufik Hidayat (pictured right) home.
The two, rather surprisingly, have played each other only four times before, with Kuncoro winning once. The career head-to-head made absolutely no difference in the match, as Kuncoro looked fit, fast and aggressive in countering his famed rival’s bag of tricks.
Taufik was outmatched. He did keep abreast in the early part of the game, but Kuncoro steadily built up a lead – smashing powerfully, defending well, and even catching Taufik short at the net from time to time.
But still it will be Taufik flying Indonesia's flag at the London 2012 Olympic Games men's singles event this summer along with Simon Santoso, who squeezed into the final eight after beating Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki 15-21 21-16 21-19 in the longest match of the day of 72 minutes.
While both the men's and women's doubles lost their 4th seeds in straight games. Korea's world number 4 men's doubles pair Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Seong fell to Indonesia's world number 91 Rendra Wijaya / Rian Sukmawan 22-20 21-18, and Japan's Mizuki Fujii / Reika Kakiiwa lost 21-19 21-10 to China's youngster Bao Yixin / Zhong Qianxin.
Results of the second round of the 2012 Djarum Indonesia Open can be found here.