OUE Singapore Open 2017

Champs in double KO

Above: Defending women's singles champion Ratchanok Intanon making an early first-round exit at the Singapore Open, with a 8-21, 18-21 loss to Japan's Sayaka Sato.
Above: Defending women's singles champion Ratchanok Intanon making an early first-round exit at the Singapore Open, with a 8-21, 18-21 loss to Japan's Sayaka Sato. PHOTO: OUE SINGAPORE OPEN
Above: Reigning men's singles holder Sony Dwi Kuncuro could not overcome Lee Dong Keun, losing 21-19, 15-21, 18-21.
Above: Reigning men's singles holder Sony Dwi Kuncuro could not overcome Lee Dong Keun, losing 21-19, 15-21, 18-21. PHOTO: OUE SINGAPORE OPEN

Upsets stack up at S'pore Open, with men's and women's singles champions bowing out

Big-name reputations continued to count for little at this year's OUE Singapore Open with the exit of both defending singles champions and the men's top seed yesterday.

World No. 2 Viktor Axelsen's first-round 15-21, 15-21 exit came at the hands of Hong Kong's Vincent Wong, while Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro's title defence ended with a 21-19, 15-21, 18-21 loss to South Korean Lee Dong Keun.

Denmark's Axelsen said: "(Wong) was really sharp on the net and played some really good shots, while I played not well. For most of the game, I didn't have the mental and physical capabilities to cope with the distractions, and that's not good enough."

On the women's side, Thai Ratchanok Intanon also fell at the first hurdle, losing 8-21, 18-21 to Japan's Sayaka Sato to continue the upsets. Olympic mixed doubles champion pair Liliyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad were bundled out on Tuesday.

Ratchanok's victory at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last year catapulted her to world No. 1, but she looked a pale shadow of herself against Sato.

While discernibly hampered by the same ankle injury that led to round-of-16 losses in recent tournaments in India and Malaysia, the seventh seed said it was not an excuse. She added: "Sato knew how to play me. She had a good game, good speed and good defence." 

  • DAY 3 SELECTED FIXTURES

  • SCHEDULED START

    2pm Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) v Hsu Ya-ching (Tpe)

    3pm Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong (Chn) v Terry Hee/Tan Wei Han

    5.20pm Fitriani Fitriani (Ina) v P.V. Sindhu (Ind)

    7pm Lee Chia-hsin (Tpe) v Caroline Marin (Esp)

    7.50pm Pablo Abian (Esp) v Shi Yuqi (Chn)

    9.30pm Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) v Chiang Mei-hui (Tpe)

Sato, ranked 19th, attributed her win to a fast start. She said: "I was more positive. In the first game, I thought Ratchanok might be a bit relaxed, so I wanted to take advantage of those situations."

Last year's losing finalist Son Wan Ho of South Korea also had to find his groove before beating compatriot Heo Kwang Hee 21-13, 14-21, 21-16. Son is ranked world No. 5 and the highest male seed left in the draw.

In a quirk of the women's draw, India's P.V. Sindhu and Japanese Nozomi Okuhara - both Rio Olympic semi-finalists - clashed in the first round with the former prevailing 10-21, 21-15, 22-20.

The unseeded Okuhara staged a remarkable comeback in the third game, clawing back a seven-point deficit to level at 20-20 before the world No. 2 closed out the thrilling match.

Sindu, who will next face Indonesian Fitriani Fitriani, said: "In the last game, I was nervous, after leading from 20-13, but I still had confidence that if she could take so many points, why can't I? I took points in the rallies and my attack. At the last, I think her defence was cracking a bit."

Mixed doubles pair Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han beat Indonesians Ronald Ronald and Melati Daeva Oktavianti 21-19, 22-20 to advance as Singapore's sole survivors. Their team-mates Yeo Jia Min (women's singles), Jin Yujia/ Citra Putra Sari Dewi (women's doubles), Hee/ Loh Kean Hean, Danny Bawa Chrisnanta/ Hendra Wijaya (men's doubles) all lost yesterday.

Hee and Tan will play All England champions Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong of China today.

SEE ALSO

No S'porean representatives left in singles action

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2017, with the headline 'Champs in double KO'. Print Edition | Subscribe