The world's top-ranked shuttlers were sent tumbling out of the OUE Singapore Open yesterday, as both China's Chen Long and Spain's Carolina Marin suffered upsets in their quarter-final ties.
Chen, despite riding a momentum that had led to a seven-point lead against Hong Kong's Angus Ng in the second game, ended up squandering 10 points in a row before losing 21-14, 21-17.
The women's singles No. 1 Marin, nursing a flu and a sore ankle, was no match for her fearless opponent Akane Yamaguchi, who was buoyed by the significant Japanese support as she came from behind to win 13-21, 21-18, 21-18.
Said Chen, whose joy from a best showing at the event in three attempts lasted just one day: "It's quite a pity. Maybe I felt that I had a good lead in the second game and started to relax a bit.
"My opponent did very well today, especially in the first game. I handed the second game to him."
Ng, the world No. 16, was especially effective in wrong-footing his more illustrious opponent yesterday. But the manner in which he took out the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist surprised even the player himself.
COURT 1 (from 2pm)
Women's Doubles: Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) v Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei (Chn)
Mixed Doubles: Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Ina) v Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na (Kor)
Women's Singles: Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) v Ratchanok Intanon (Tha)
Men's Doubles: Lee Yong Dae/ Yoo Yeon Seong (Kor) v Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan (Chn)
Men's Singles: Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Ina) v Lin Dan (Chn)
COURT 2 (from 2.15pm)
Mixed Doubles: Xu Chen/ Ma Jin (Chn) v Wang Yilyu/ Chen Qingchen (Chn)
Women's Singles: He Bingjiao (Chn) v Sun Yu (Chn)
Men's Singles: Angus Ng (Hkg) v Son Wan Ho (Kor)
Women's Doubles: Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan (Kor) v Nitya Krishinda Maheswari/ Greysia Polii (Ina)
Men's Doubles: Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda (Jpn) v Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (Chn)
Said Ng: "I set out attacking the back of the court more so that I could create opportunities for myself at the net. I just wanted to treat this match as a good learning experience and did not expect to win in straight games.
"To be able to defeat such a strong player is a great experience, but it's still a long way to go before I can think about winning the title."
Ng will play Son Wan Ho in the semi-finals today, after the South Korean's 11-21, 21-15, 21-19 win over China's Tian Houwei ensured that there will be a non-Chinese shuttler in the men's singles final.
Lin Dan is the lone Chinese left in the event after beating Tommy Sugiarto 21-18, 21-14, and will play his fourth Indonesian opponent in a row when he meets qualifier Sony Dwi Kuncoro today.
Spaniard Marin, meanwhile, rued her lacklustre performance at the net. The 22-year-old mounted a strong comeback in the rubber game, winning six points in a row to take a 18-17 lead, but was undone by her own mistakes in the end.
She said: "She played better than me at the net and I had to be ready but I wasn't. I'm disappointed with how I managed at the net.
"I (told) myself (that) I can continue - I have to try because she was leading. It was a tough match."
The win will do much to boost Yamaguchi's confidence. The 18-year-old has suffered a series of early exits at tournaments so far this season. Speaking through a translator, she said: "I'm coming back up, I've got confidence, but I want to play the top players in the semi-finals and final stage and I have to step up to do that."
Yamaguchi will take on an in-form Ratchanok Intanon today. The Thai world No. 2 swept past team-mate Porntip Buranaprasertsuk 21-12, 21-18 yesterday.
Said Ratchanok, who is riding on a high after picking up two titles in as many weeks before coming to Singapore: "I'm feeling good physically. My target is to be the champion in Singapore."
OUE SINGAPORE OPEN
S-finals: S'pore Indoor Stadium, StarHub Ch203, 2pm