Ahmad/Natsir To Skip Title Defence

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO

Reigning World champions Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir will not be defending their title in Nanjing. The Indonesian Mixed Doubles duo (featured image) have declined their invitation to the year’s biggest individual event in Phase 2 of the qualifying process.

A few other prominent Mixed Doubles pairs too have declined their invitations. Last year’s runners-up Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen (China); Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto; Korea’s Seo Seung Jae/Kim Ha Na and Choi SolGyu/Chae YuJung too have declined. However, some of these players have qualified with other partners. Zheng Siwei, for instance, has qualified with Huang Yaqiong, while Praveen Jordan has accepted his qualification with Melati Daeva Oktavianti.

Among the reserves who are eligible in Phase 2 are England’s Ben Lane/Jessica Pugh (No.27); Denmark’s Mikkel Mikkelsen/Mai Surrow (No.35); Chinese Taipei’s Lu Ching Yao/Chiang Kai Hsin (No.37); Denmark’s Anders Skaarup Rasmussen/Line Kjaersfeldt (No.41); Thailand’s Tinn Isriyanet/Pacharapun Chochuwong (No.44); Chinese Taipei’s Liao Min Chun/Chen Hsiao Huan (No.48) and Thailand’s Bodin Issara/Savitree Amitrapai (No.49).

Few of the top qualified players or pairs in any other category have declined.

In Women’s Doubles, the fast-improving Wakana Nagahara and Mayu Matsumoto, who shot to World No.11 from No.45 within a year, have qualified as the first reserves.

Japan can count on a powerful armada in Women’s Doubles with Nagahara and Matsumoto, semi-finalists at the Yonex All England earlier this year, joining their compatriots Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi; Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota and Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto for the 30 July-5 August event in Nanjing.

Other eligible Women’s Doubles pairs in the reserves’ list include Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun/Chang Ye Na (No.28); Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan (No.32); Malaysia’s Soong Fie Cho/Tee Jing Yi (No.37); young Chinese duo Du Yue/Xu Ya (No.42); Thailand’s Savitree Amitrapai/Pacharapun Chochuwong (No.43) and Denmark’s Julie Finne-Ipsen/Rikke Soby.

Korean pairs Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee; Kim Hye Rin/Yoo Chae Ran and Chae YuJung/Kim So Yeong, Russia’s Olga Morozova/Anastasia Chervykova; England’s Lauren Smith/Sarah Walker; Hong Kong’s Poon Lok Yan/Tse Ying Suet and England’s Chloe Birch/Jessica Pugh have declined their invitations.

The Women’s Singles quota of 48 places has been filled in Phase 2. Japan’s Aya Ohori, World No.14, is first reserve and will qualify in case of a withdrawal before the draw.

In Men’s Singles, three players have become eligible from the reserves’ list. Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Yen Hao (No.26) has qualified as first reserve, as have Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (second reserve) and India’s Sameer Verma (third reserve).

Chinese Taipei had more reason to cheer as No.14 pair Liao Min Chun/Su Ching Heng qualified as first reserves in Men’s Doubles. They will join compatriots Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin; Lee Jhe-Huei/Lee Yang and Lu Ching Yao/Yang Po Han, who had qualified in earlier phases.

Last year’s World Championships runners-up Mohammad Ahsan and Rian Agung Saputro, who are with different partners now, have declined their invitation, as have Korea’s Kim Won Ho/Seo Seung Jae, and England’s Peter Briggs/Tom Wolfenden and Ben Lane/Sean Vendy.

Reserve pairs who have stepped into the vacated spots include Denmark’s Mathias Christiansen/David Daugaard (No.22); Indonesia’s Berry Angriawan/Hardianto Hardianto (No.25); Indonesia’s Hendra Setiawan and Malaysia’s Tan Boon Heong (No.28); Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe (No.29); China’s Han Chengkai/Zhou Haodong (No.30) and Thailand’s Bodin Issara/Nipitphon Phuangphuapet (No.31).