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Yonex Open Japan – Day 2: Intanon Falls at First Hurdle

World champion Ratchanok Intanon suffered her third first-round defeat this year as she was shown the door by Liu Xin at the Yonex Open Japan 2014 today.

Intanon, the Women’s Singles third seed from Thailand, fell behind after 10-all in the first game and although she enjoyed a mid-match revival, Liu dominated her in the closing stages to ensure a comprehensive victory at 21-11 14-21 21-16.

In a keenly-awaited contest, Olympic champion Li Xuerui held off the feisty defending champion and home hope Akane Yamaguchi after an hour-long battle. Yamaguchi surprised Li by dominating the early exchanges with Li unable to shake her off. The Japanese challenger would have sensed an opportunity for victory at 19-all in the second game, but the experienced Li held firm under pressure to pull away, 17-21 21-19 21-18.

Among the other significant results of the day was the upset of Korea’s fifth seed Bae Yeon Ju of Korea by USA’s Zhang Beiwen (BWF home page) 21-10 24-22 and China’s Yao Xue’s defeat by Kana Ito. Japan’s Ito made light of the 63-place difference in their BWF Destination Dubai Rankings as she edged past Yao in a thriller, 21-18 22-24 22-20, after saving two match points. India’s No.59 Tanvi Lad (above) too punched above her weight in taking down Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour (No.18), 13-21 21-11 21-17.

Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen was precariously placed in his Men’s Singles match against Japan youngster Kento Momota but scrambled to safety. Momota, one of the heroes of Japan’s Thomas Cup victory at New Delhi last month, outplayed Jorgensen in the opening game and had leads of 15-7 and 19-16, but each time Jorgensen battled back to draw level. The Dane saved a match point to take the second game, after which the deflated Momota could not offer much of a challenge: 13-21 22-20 21-12.

“Not the prettiest match and not the match I wanted, but I still won in the end,” Jorgensen posted on his Facebook page. “I got a good start leading 7-2 and then I completely stopped playing my game and lost my rhythm and focus. After that it was a hard fought game where I tried all I could to get it going. I found something in the end of the second set and when it got close I could tell that he was nervous and tense. I took my chances and won it 22-20… After the break he was done and did not have any more power so I could grab it 21-12. I was almost out of the tournament so I’m thankful to get another chance to play better tomorrow.”

Another player who survived a ‘near-death’ experience was Momota’s compatriot Riichi Takeshita (left), who got the better of India’s Kashyap Parupalli.

Parupalli appeared to have wrapped up the contest with a game and 20-18 lead, but Takeshita saved four match points before taking the match to a decider, which he won: 15-21 25-23 21-18.

Parupalli’s compatriot Sourabh Varma got the better of Hong Kong’s Wei Nan in a close finish, 19-21 21-14 22-20, while Malaysia’s Chong Wei Feng dashed the hopes of Korea’s Son Wan Ho (6), 15-21 21-17 21-15. Top three stars Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia, 1), Chen Long (2) and Lin Dan (both China) eased into the second round.

HIGHLIGHTS:

* Malaysia’s scratch Men’s Doubles combination of Goh V Shem/Tan Boon Heong came good as they enjoyed a surprisingly easy victory over local stars and third seeds Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa, 21-13 21-11. Goh/Tan’s compatriots, Hoon Thien How/Tan Wee Kiong, too chalked up a creditable victory over Hong Kong’s  Chan Yun Lung/Lee Chun Hei, 12-21 21-11 24-22, after saving two match points. Denmark's Mads-Conrad Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding prevailed over England's Chris Langridge/Peter Mills (below) in another close battle, 21-13 20-22 21-18.

* Five Japanese pairs entered the second round of Women’s Doubles, led by third seeds Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, who repulsed a strong challenge from China’s Huan Xia/Zhong Qianxin, 23-21 21-18. China's Ou Dongni and Xiong Mengjing (below) scripted an upset over eighth seeded Korean pair Ko A Ra and Yoo Hae Won.

* India’s Tarun Kona/Ashwini Ponnappa edged past Germany’s Peter Kaesbauer/Isabel Herttrich in three tight games, 18-21 21-18 21-17, giving Ponnappa her second victory of the day after she and Jwala Gutta had entered the second round of Women’s Doubles.

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