OUE Singapore Open 2016

Badminton: Shaky Chen just makes it

China's Lin Dan, who beat Indonesian Ihsan Maulana Mustofa in his first appearance in Singapore in five years, felt that conditions were not as draughty as before, unlike compatriot Chen Long, who had trouble adjusting.
China's Lin Dan, who beat Indonesian Ihsan Maulana Mustofa in his first appearance in Singapore in five years, felt that conditions were not as draughty as before, unlike compatriot Chen Long, who had trouble adjusting.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

He aims to break S'pore jinx by beating twice champion; Jorgensen biggest name to lose

Perhaps it is the fact that in two previous attempts at the badminton event, he has never succeeded in getting past the second round.

Or maybe it is the somewhat notorious reputation that the Singapore Indoor Stadium has made for itself as a tricky venue to play in.

But something about playing at the OUE Singapore Open has gotten world No. 1 Chen Long uncharacteristically superstitious.

 

Soon after a 18-21, 21-18, 21-19 win over India's H. S. Prannoy yesterday that was too close for comfort, the Chinese shuttler joked that perhaps doing fewer media interviews might boost his chances.

"I think maybe I should not do any interviews," he said cheekily. "It seems like every time I do interviews, I end up not getting into the quarter-finals.

"This venue is well known on the circuit. A lot of top players have not been able to win the title here. So I'm quite happy to just be able to win one round."

NEARLY BLOWN OFF COURSE

Maybe I'm still adjusting to the draught here, but I made a lot of mistakes... It got a bit too tight, but I guess I lucked out.

CHEN LONG, the world No. 1 who has never got past the second round here.

Playing one of the first matches of the day, Chen admitted that his performance yesterday was below par.

Just three points away from a shock first-round exit, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist had to rally against a fearless and aggressive Prannoy, the world No. 22, to etch out a win.

Said Chen: "Maybe I'm still adjusting to the draught here, but I made a lot of mistakes. If I had made fewer of them, it wouldn't have been such a laborious third game for me. It got a bit too tight, but I guess I lucked out."

That great escape earned him a second-round meeting against a tricky adversary - Thai Boonsak Ponsana, a two-time champion here.

While Chen lamented the possibility of having to adjust to the draught again today should he play on a different court, team-mate Lin Dan said he faced no such issues.

Playing in Singapore for the first time since conceding a walkover in the 2011 final, Lin's appeal was undeniable, drawing a decent crowd to the arena even on a weekday morning.

  • PICK OF TODAY'S MATCHES

  • 2.50pm: Carolina Marin (Esp) v Nitchaon Jindapol (Tha)

    3pm: Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) v Hsu Ya-ching (Tpe)

    6.20pm: Sun Yu (Chn) v Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn)

    5.30pm: Chen Long (Chn) v Boonsak Ponsana (Tha)

    8.40pm: Danny Bawa Chrisnanta/Hendra Wijaya (Sin) v Takeshi Kamura/ Keigo Sonoda (Jpn)

    8.50pm: Christie Jonatan (Ina) v Lin Dan (Chn)

    9.40pm: Liu Yuchen/Tang Jinhua (Chn) v Terry Hee/ Tan Wei Han (Sin)

Said the two-time Olympic champion: "It feels as if significant improvement has been made to the draught issue since the last time I played here.

"Maybe it's due to the feedback and effort of the local organisers over the years.

"It's very encouraging to see that a first-round match on a Wednesday morning can get people coming to support too."

Besides the Chinese, the event's other big names also got past their opening rounds with little hassle.

Despite fighting a flu she caught last week and a roll of her left ankle in her match early in the match yesterday, Spaniard Carolina Marin remained untroubled, beating Indonesia's Lindaweni Fanetri 21-12, 21-9.

The world No. 1's greater concern before playing Thailand's Nitchaon Jindapol today will be nursing her foot.

She said: "I had a good performance and did really good during the match. Now (my ankle) is a little bit painful.

"I've got chronic injury in my ankle so I have to take care of it."

Second seed Nozomi Okuhara played the last match of the day, closed out a swift 21-5, 21-9 victory against Indonesian Yulia Yosephin Susanto. The Japanese will play defending champion Sun Yu of China today.

Denmark's world No. 5 Jan Jorgensen was the highest-profile casualty of the day, going down 16-21, 20-22 to Japan's world No. 26 Sho Sasaki.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2016, with the headline 'Shaky Chen just makes it'. Print Edition | Subscribe