Singapore pair outplayed
Republic's shuttlers will not feature at the weekend after Chrisnanta and Neo fail to fire
Sporadic chants of "Come on, Singapore" and "Singapura" echoed around the Indoor Stadium last night, as a crowd of about 500 stayed on to watch the final match of the day at the OUE Singapore Open.
But the support could do little to lift Singapore's mixed doubles pair Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Vanessa Neo, who were comprehensively beaten 21-10, 21-14 by defending champions and world No. 5 Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir in the quarter-finals of the marquee badminton tournament.
After the match, Chrisnanta, 25, said: "We had a strategy because we had faced them several times before but, tonight, we didn't apply it at the start."
Neo, 27, added: "Maybe we had two different thoughts (on how to apply the strategy), we should have stuck with one plan and change it if it couldn't work.
"But, in the end, we were playing two different games, so maybe that caused some confusion."
The Singapore shuttlers were grateful for the support from the fans, though.
Chrisnanta said: "Thank you very much for the support, we could really feel the spirit when we played.
"It was really different from when we played in other countries."
The pair were the best-performing Singaporeans at the US$300,000 ($409,000) Badminton World Federation Superseries tournament, which ends tomorrow.
Singapore Badminton Association president Lee Yi Shyan said the shuttlers' performance in the tournament was "fair", and tempered medal expectations at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games, which will be held here from June 5 to 16.
He said: "For our SEA Games, we are going to send a squad that are very young. I think our men's average age is only 22 and our women's about 20.
"In both the men's and women's teams, 50 per cent of the players are newly promoted from the national intermediate squad."
Their selection comes after the retirement of several senior players such as Ashton Chen, Gu Juan, Fu Mingtian, Terry Yeo and Yao Lei.
Younger players like Yeo Jia Min, Liang Xiaoyu, Ryan Ng and Elaine Chua have been promoted from the National Intermediate Squad and are likely to feature at the SEA Games.
Lee, who is also the Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and National Development, said: "Our motto to the players is to play our best. If we play our best and we put up a good fight, and you don't make unforced errors, people can tell."
"Many of the regional players have done well so far at the Singapore Open, and they have caused some upsets."
"But, the last time we went to Jakarta for the SEA Games (in 2011), we created surprises, too," he added, referring to Fu winning Singapore's first women's singles gold in the history of the event.
Lee also hopes to see good home support at the Games.
He said: "Home support is definitely crucial. When the players are so tense and every point counts, you'd want to hear a voice out there shouting for Singapore, shouting your name, cheering you on.
"That emotional support and connection is very crucial for players on the court. It will give our players a lot of moral support, and I would encourage our fans to come down and support our players."
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.
"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."
Men's singles quarter-finals
Hu Yun (HK) bt Tian Houwei (Chn) 17-21, 21-18, 21-10, Kashyap Parupalli (Ind) bt Brice Leverdez 21-6, 21-17, Simon Santoso (Ina) bt Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Tha) 21-10, 21-19, Kento Momota (Jpn) bt H S Prannoy (Ind) - walkover
Women's singles quarter-finals
Wang Shixian (Chn) bt Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) 21-18, 21-18, Wang Yihan (Chn) bt Ratchanon Intanon (Tha) 10-21, 21-19, 21-12, Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) bt Maria Febe Kusumastuti (Ina) 21-10, 21-14, Sun Yu (Chn) bt Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn) 21-17, 22-20
Men's doubles quarter-finals
Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (Ina) bt Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pankaryanira/Ade Yusuf (Ina) 21-12, 21-16, Zhang Nan/Fu Haifeng (Chn) bt Lee Sheng-mu/Tsai Chia-hsin (Tpe) 21-16, 21-23, 21-15, Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi (Ina) bt Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong (Kor) 21-19, 21-18, Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa (Jpn) bt Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding (Den) 17-21, 21-13, 21-18
Women's doubles quarter-finals
Reika Kakiiwa/Miyuki Maeda (Jpn) bt Eefje Muskens/Selena Piek (Hol) 22-20, 21-17, Wang Xiaoli/Yu Yang (Chn) bt Huang Yaqiong/Ma Jin (Chn) 21-17, 19-21, 21-15, Ou Dongni/Yu Xiaohan (Chn) bt Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth/Rizki Amelia Pradipta (Ina) 21-10, 21-15, Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) bt Xia Huan/Tian Qing (Chn) 21-15, 21-19
Mixed doubles quarter-finals
Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (Chn) bt Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na (Kor) 21-14, 21-16, Xu Chen/Ma Jin (Chn) bt Irfan Fadhilah/Weni Anggraini (Ina) 21-10, 21-6, Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong (Chn) bt Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock (Eng), Danny Bawa Chrisnanta/Vanessa Neo lost to Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Ina) 21-10, 21-14
Men's singles semi-finals
Hu Yun (HK) v Kashyap Parupalli (Ind), Simon Santoso (Ina) v Kento Momota (Jpn)
Women's singles semi-finals
Tai Tzu-ying v Wang Yihan (Chn), Sun Yu (Chn) v Wang Shixian (Chn)
Men's doubles semi-finals
Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi (Ina) v Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa (Jpn), Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (Ina) v Fu Haifeng/ Zhang Nan (Chn)
Women's doubles semi-finals
Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) v Wang Xiaoli/Yu Yang (Chn), Ou Dongni/Yu Xiaohan (Chn) v Reika Kakiiwa/Miyuki Maeda (Jpn)
Mixed doubles semi-finals
Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (Chn) v Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Ina), Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong (Chn) v Xu Chen/ Ma Jin (Chn)