Day 2 of BWF World Tour Super 500 Malaysia Masters saw all the big guns winning their matches and proceeding to the next round. The toughest match to predict on this day was the contest between Carolina Marin and Akane Yamaguchi. It was the Spaniard that triumphed against the slightly out of form Japanese. Other results were as expected.
Looking ahead to Day 3, there are a couple of exciting matches in prospect. Let’s look at them closely.
Saina Nehwal vs An Se Young
This match is going to be hard to predict. Saina is a former world no. 1 and medalist at both World Championships as well as the Olympics. But she seems to be past her prime. An Se Young, on the other hand, is the rising star who left everyone stunned last year by winning the French Open and defeating several big guns along the way.
Both these ladies won their first-round matches without any difficulty. However, it wouldn’t be too radical to see the South Korean as the favourite going into this match. She is young, fresh and looking like a world-beater. This is another opportunity for her to prove that she is a future superstar. Her performance would be worth watching.
Kento Momota vs HS Prannoy
On a mixed day for India, HS Prannoy managed to end up on the winning side and advance to the next round. However, he is up against the current king of men’s singles badminton, Kento Momota. Prannoy has a mountain to climb against the 2-time World Champion.
If he has to cause an upset, Prannoy needs to go on the offensive and disturb the usual game style of the Japanese player. The world no. 1 likes to play long rallies and suck the energy out of his opponents. The Indian shuttler has to take more chances and force Momota to take risks. Otherwise, the stamina of the World Champion is nearly impossible to match.
PV Sindhu vs Aya Ohori
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu is off to a good start in the tournament but she is known for fumbling in events like this in early stages. Her second-round match against Aya Ohori should be a relatively easy match unless she messes it up.
Ohori is the third-best Japanese player in this division but isn’t among the top players. She hasn’t had much success in the last year and isn’t expected to do much here also. But she does have a chance against Sindhu if she can be a little persistent.
The Indian World Champion is known for not having the patience and tenacity in events which are not the biggest ones. Let’s see how she does here.
Sameer Verma vs Lee Zii Jia
Sameer Verma is off to a good start to 2020. He defeated Kantaphon Wangcharoen in the first round. But his opponent, local hero Lee Zii Jia is off to an even better start as he put down 8th seed Anders Antonsen.
With this victory behind him and the crowd support also likely to be in his favour, the Malaysian would be hard to beat. But Verma is an understated and hardworking player. He could well cause heartbreak for the home fans by getting the better of Lee in the second-round contest.
Carolina Marin vs Cai Yan Yan
The 3-time World Champion is off to a thundering start. Given a tough first-round opponent due to being unseeded, she smashed Akane Yamaguchi in straight games and now has a much less-fancied opponent against her.
With Marin, what matters is her speed and power. If she is in her rhythm, which is usually accompanied by loud screams of joy every time she wins a point, it is nearly impossible to stop her. Since this is the beginning of the season and she didn’t play in the World Tour Finals, the Spaniard would be fresh and raring to go. It would take a huge upset to defeat her.
Tai Tzu Ying vs Sung Ji Hyun
South Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun once used to be world no. 1. Now, the 28-year old has fallen so far behind that she is pitted against the top-seed Tai Tzu Ying in just the second round.
Just as Marin is at her best when she is playing fast and strong, Tai is in her element if she is reeling off points through some of those sublime shots which only she can play. The Taiwanese player also needs to regain the apex position in the rankings after losing it last month following her loss to Chen Yufei in the World Tour Finals.
Chen Long vs Lee Cheuk Yiu
The reigning Olympic Champion is seeded fourth for this tournament. That is actually quite a flattering seeding for him. His form since winning the French Open hasn’t been so good as to make him one of the favourites for this event.
His opponent is Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong. The latter was an obscure player in the circuit until the Hong Kong Open last year where he stunned everyone by not just winning the tournament but playing so well that most people wondered why he isn’t among the top-10 players.
The inconsistency of Chen Long and the newly-gained confidence of Lee could make this match a real close one.
Other big matches
In an all-Japanese clash, Nozomi Okuhara would be taking on Sayaka Takahashi. China’s He Bing Jiao, struggling to remain among the top names in women’s badminton, would face Ruselli Hartwan of Indonesia. The favourite to win this event, Chen Yufei will take on Nitchaon Jindapol. 5th seed Ratchanok Intanon, always hard to predict, will face Wang Zhi Yi of China.
In an all-Chinese clash, Shi Yuqi, who struggled for form last year would face compatriot Lu Guang Zu. The performance of Shi would be closely watched by Chinese fans. With Lin Dan losing in the first round and Chen Long looking unreliable, Shi is their best hope for an Olympic medal.
Asian Games gold medalist Jonatan Christi takes on Rasmus Gemke of Denmark while 2017 World Champion Viktor Axelsen faces Kenta Nishimoto of Japan in what could be an interesting match. 2nd seed Chou Tien Chen will have Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long Angus as his opponent.
Get the full Malaysia Masters 2020 SchedulePublished 08 Jan 2020, 22:59 IST