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Men's singles crown up for grabs

TOP FORM: Hong Kong’s Hu Yun (above) is in the men’s singles semi-finals after beating two Chinese players, including world No. 1 Chen Long in the Round of 16. - PHOTO: AFP

The battle for the OUE Singapore Open men's singles title will be one of the most open in recent years.

The semi-finals today at the Singapore Indoor Stadium will feature only one shuttler who is in the world's top 10 - in 2012, Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Minh, then ranked 11th, was the top-ranked player in the last four, with then-world No. 32 Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand eventually taking home the crown.

Japan's world No. 10 Kento Momota is the highest-ranked shuttler left in the competition, advancing yesterday after India's H S Prannoy pulled out of their quarter-final tie with a foot injury.

Momota will face stiff competition against defending champion Simon Santoso of Indonesia, who won here last year as a qualifier and is aiming to repeat the fairy-tale feat.

After his 21-10, 21-19 win over Thailand's Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk last night, Santoso said: "It was not an easy fight. Physically, it was alright but, mentally, it was a challenge for me.

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"The point gap was close. At one point in the second game, I lost my confidence. But I kept working hard and focused on one point at a time.

"Since tomorrow's match is a semi-final, I will definitely play my best. All of the opponents are very good and I believe it won't be an easy battle.

"My strategy is to take one match at a time and to be focused."

The other men's singles semi-final will see a duel between world No. 13 Hu Yun of Hong Kong and India's world 
No. 15, Kashyap Parupalli.

Hu Yun, who stunned world No. 1 Chen Long in the Round of 16 on Thursday, beat another Chinese, Tian Houwei, 17-21, 21-18, 21-10, while Kashyap battered France's Brice Leverdez 21-6, 21-17.

Hu, 33, said: "My mentality going into today's game was different than against Chen Long. Today's match was one I could win because my opponent is one of the younger players in the Chinese squad and he was going to be more nervous, so I needed to take advantage of that.

"I was leading earlier in the first game, but I became complacent and he caught up. But I told myself to stay focused for the second and third games."

While he is now full of confidence, he insisted he would not allow complacency to set in.

Hu said: "My next opponent should be weaker, as compared to my last two opponents but, if he can reach the semi-finals, it means his form and mental game should be very good, so I cannot underestimate him."

Hu's semi-final opponent Kashyap said: "Hu Yun is in some crazy form, he's beaten Chen Long and Chen Long is playing close to perfect badminton this year. That shows these conditions here are very tough, even for the best players.

"Hu Yun has a bit of form, but I've played him at the 2013 world championships before and I've won, so we'll see."

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