Badminton: World No. 1s Tai Tzu-ying and Kento Momota make light of brief blackout and illness to progress

Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan at the second round of the Singapore Badminton Open in the Singapore Indoor Stadium on April 11, 2019.
Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan at the second round of the Singapore Badminton Open in the Singapore Indoor Stadium on April 11, 2019.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - There was drama on Court 4 at the Singapore Badminton Open again as the lights went out during world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying's women's singles second-round match against China's Chen Xiaoxin at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Thursday (April 11).

One row of lights suddenly stopped working when Tai was in the midst of making it 15-12 in the second game. Two of the lamps came back on after about five minutes and play resumed three minutes later after both players agreed to finish off the match.

Tai kept her composure to win 21-15, 21-18 in 42 minutes to progress to Friday's quarter-finals where she will meet South Korea's world No. 10 Sung Ji-hyun.

The 24-year-old Taiwanese had felt ill earlier this week and was taken to three sets by Zhang Beiwen in the opening round on Wednesday, but she never trailed on Thursday.

Bar a few unforced errors, she looked in total control with her ability to see openings and pick her spot on the court, leaving Chen to pay tribute to a player she felt had few flaws and many qualities such as technique and variety of shots she could learn from.

Tai said: "I feel much better today, I feel great. When the lights went out, I wasn't sure whether we should continue playing, but I didn't see the referee halting the game, so I continued playing.

"It felt strange because we had to stop and wait and it wasn't an injury break. We then had to warm up again, which is unusual, and I had to adapt quickly."

 
 

When asked about the jinx of Court 4, which saw Lin Dan cite cramp and retire during the first game against Viktor Axelsen on Wednesday after some contentious decisions which were not allowed to be reviewed, Tai said: "Of course we all like to play on Court 1, where we are allowed to make use of Hawkeye and challenge judiciously.

"But, if I cannot play on Court 1, I can focus only on my own game."

Like Tai, men's world No. 1 Kento Momota also overcame a cold with hot form to down India's H. S. Prannoy 21-11, 21-11 in 37 minutes on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Japanese was patient and drew his opponent into prolonged rallies before inducing fatal errors. He will play a third Indian shuttler - former world No. 1 Srikanth Kidambi - on Friday, after beating 2017 Singapore Open champion B. Sai Praneeth in three games on Wednesday.

Momota said: "I made a lot of mistakes in my match the day before and was unhappy, but I am pleased with my performance.

"Even though we had quite a few long rallies today, I feel much better than yesterday. Srikanth has a very good defence and I will definitely prepare myself well for the match."

There were no shocks in both the men and women's singles as the top four seeds in both events prevailed.

But there will be no Singaporean shuttlers in Friday's quarter-finals after Grace Chua was beaten 21-6, 21-11 by Japan's former world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi in their women's singles match.

Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Loh Kean Hean put up a stronger fight in the men's doubles before losing 21-13, 22-20 to Denmark's world No. 8 Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen.