JAKARTA • India's P.V. Sindhu caused the first major upset at the badminton World Championships, when the 20-year-old stunned Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China 21-17, 14-21, 21-17 in a pulsating women's singles third-round encounter yesterday.
Sindhu often saves her best for this tournament and will be looking to improve on her two previous bronze-medal performances if she can maintain the form that saw her storm to victory past the Chinese third seed in 50 minutes in Jakarta.
Sindhu, seeded 11th, has had an injury-interrupted season but will fancy her chances of another upset against South Korea's Sung Ji Hyun, the eighth seed.
"It is good to come back from the injury and beat a top player," she said. "I had a foot injury in February. It took me four months to recover. Today it was a long match. The shuttle was fast and we were not able to judge it, so we tried to play a controlled game.
"I have two bronze medals from World Championships; this time I hope to get a better one."
A crestfallen Li insisted that she would not dwell on her shock exit and pledged to support her Chinese compatriots still in contention for medals. "I prepared for this tournament to the best of my ability, so I'm not going to stay down for long," she said.
Former world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand also crashed out, retiring injured in the third game of her clash with Indonesia's Lindaweni Fanetri while leading 26-24, 21-10, 8-5.
Defending champion Carolina Marin also survived a mighty scare, when she dropped the second game of her match against Taiwan's Pai Yu-po.
The Spaniard, who also rolled her ankle in the match, dug deep to advance 21-11, 18-21, 21-17.
"I got a bit scared when I hurt my leg as the same thing happened at the last World Championships," she said. "I tried to keep it out of my mind. It wasn't my best game, but it's important to win even when you aren't playing well."
On a good day for India in the women's singles, second seed Saina Nehwal overcame a sluggish start against Japanese southpaw Sayaka Takahashi to book her place in the last eight with a 21-18, 21-14 victory.
In the men's draw, top seed and defending champion Chen Long put on a fine display of attacking badminton and supreme court coverage with a 21-17, 21-18 victory over unseeded Thai Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk to book his place in the quarter-finals.
Long-time rivals Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and five-time world champion Lin Dan of China also breezed past their opponents and remain on a collision course for a semi-final showdown.
Lee beat China's Wang Zhenming 21-17, 21-19 while Lin eased part Denmark's Hans-Kristian Vittinghus 21-9, 21-13.
Japan's top-ranked women's double pair Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi, however, crashed out in the third round, losing 15-21, 21-12, 14-21 to Malaysia's Amelia Alicia Anscelly and Soong Fie Cho.
Matsutomo and Takahashi were considered one of the few pairs capable of breaking China's stranglehold on the women's doubles event. The Chinese have won every women's doubles crown bar one since they began competing in the World Championships 32 years ago.
"We are very disappointed," Takahashi said via a translator. "We made so many mistakes, everything was bad."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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