Singapore Badminton Open 2019: Tai Tzu-ying finds her mark in the dark

Taiwanese world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying, despite feeling unwell earlier this week, proved too strong for China's Chen Xiaoxin during their Singapore Badminton Open second-round match yesterday. Tai won 21-15, 21-18 and will meet South Korean Sung Ji-hyun
Taiwanese world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying, despite feeling unwell earlier this week, proved too strong for China's Chen Xiaoxin during their Singapore Badminton Open second-round match yesterday. Tai won 21-15, 21-18 and will meet South Korean Sung Ji-hyun in the quarter-finals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Brief blackout fails to distract world No. 1; Momota leads top guns into the last eight

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 last night.

One row of lights at the Singapore Indoor Stadium suddenly stopped working when Tai was 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.

The Taiwanese kept her composure to win 21-15, 21-18 in 42 minutes to progress to today's quarter-final match against South Korea's world No. 10 Sung Ji-hyun.

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

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.

The Japanese was patient and drew his opponent into prolonged rallies that induced fatal errors.

Today, he will play a third Indian, former world No. 1 Srikanth Kidambi, after beating 2017 Singapore Open champion B. Sai Praneeth on Wednesday.

Momota, 24, said: "I made a lot of mistakes the day before and was unhappy, but I am pleased with my performance (today). Even though we had quite a few long rallies, I felt much better than yesterday.

"Srikanth has a very good defence and I will definitely prepare myself well."

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

But there will be no Singaporeans in today's quarter-finals after Grace Chua was beaten 21-6, 21-11 by Japan's former world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi in the women's singles.

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.


SINGAPORE OPEN

Q-finals: StarHub Ch201, 1pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2019, with the headline 'Tai finds her mark in the dark'. Print Edition | Subscribe