Photo credit: Tang Shi
Tai Tzu Ying is eager to get back on track after having lost earlier than what she is used to in the latest tournaments. The Taiwanese had won 6 titles and been in 7 finals this year but today she got an unusual early exit.
Tai, seeded 1, was drawn against Gao Fangjie from China who turns 20 at the end of September. The young Chinese got her big breakthrough when she played the final of China Open 2017. She had entered the tournament via the qualification. Tai Tzu Ying had one the only previous encounter with Gao in straight games. That was on her home soil at the Chinese Taipei Open in 2016.
Today the two battled on Gao Fangjie’s home soil in Changzhou. The Chinese could play freely as all expectations were set on Tai Tzu Ying – but local hopes were of course with Gao Fangjie. And it was also the Chinese who started off best.
From 3-3 in first game Gao didn’t look back. She kept on adding oil – as they say in China – as she increased her lead towards a 21-17 win in first game. Second game was more close and mid-way through the game it also looked like as if Tai had finally found her game. She brought herself to 12-8 with a good streak but 6 consecutive points for Gao took away all motivation for the world number 1.
Gao Fangjie delivered the biggest upset of the day as she won 21-16 and eliminated one of the big favorites to claim the title at China Open. Tai has to go back and work on her self-confidence. She surely is a great player but something just isn’t working the right way at the moment. Hats off for Gao Fangjie who will face the winner of Nitchaon Jindapol and Cai Yanyan tomorrow.
Other world no. 1 saved on the finish line
It was very close for the world number 1 in women’s double today. Top seeded Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota from Japan were just millimeters from following Tai Tzu Ying out of the tournament already in first round.
The two Japanese were up against Indonesians Anggia Shitta Awanda and Ni Ketut Mahadewi Istarani who are ranked 16 in the world. First game went to Fukushima and Hirota as planned, if we may say so, but the Indonesians forced the match intro three games with 21-14 in second.
The Japanese quickly went on 8-2 in third game but Awanda and Istarani brought back excitement as they took ten of the following 11 points. From here things were so close that both pairs ended of having several match points. Sadly for the Indonesians they couldn’t convert any of their four match points. Instead it was Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota who took the victory on their third; 26-24 in a big drama at the end of the match.