Day 3 of the All England Championships was even better than Day 2, throwing up nail-biting,scintillating badminton matches at the Barclaycard Arena. The first match of the day threw up an upset as Indonesia’s defending champions Ahsan/Setiawan were knocked out by Fu H/Zhang N 16-21,21-19,18-21 in the pre-quarter finals.As focus shifted to the star pairing of Jwala/Ashwini, the Indian fans were disappointed as the nation’s No.1 doubles pair were taken down by No.1 seeds Tian/Zhao 10-21,13-21. Ashwini and Jwala never seemed in the game as they gave away points meekly,seemingly unable to find their rhythm. They played longer rallies in the 2nd game and dictated play but couldn’t convert them into points, making unforced errors. Jwala’s fitness also seemed to be a matter of concern. She struggled to move and her game-play was nowhere close to her best.
Jorgensen and Ponsana produced a thriller of a match, 54 minutes of breathtaking badminton before the Dane took the match 28-26,21-15 to set up a quarter-final clash with fellow countryman Viktor Axelsen. All this while Chinese top seed Li Xuerui was shocked by Sun Yu 21-13,21-13. Contrastingly, men’s top seed Chen Long dispatched Hsu Hao 21-7,21-9 enroute to the quarter-finals. Indian superstar Saina Nehwal then stepped on court to take on youngster Kim Hyo Min. The 3rd seed used deception and drop-shots to get the better of the Korean 21-15,21-15. Saina is in good touch and can create history this time around at the prestigious All England Championships. But she will be up against nemesis Wang Yihan in the quarters. Yihan has only lost once to the Hyderabadi once in 9 meetings and Saina will need to overcome a big mental block to reign over the 5th seed. She will also need to cover the court better than she did today if she wants to win.
2 time World Champion Lin Dan showed flashes of his brilliance in his 21-15,21-19 win over Tian Houwei. He will meet Kento Momota in the last eight, an opponent who will push him to perform better for every point. The Japanese then joined the upset party with Kamura/Sonoda beating 6th seeds Jung Kim/Kim Rang 21-14,21-19 in the Men’s doubles. Rajiv Ouseph, the home-favourite took on India’s rising star HS Prannoy for a place in the quarter-finals. The see-saw encounter lasted 72 minutes with neither player letting the other breathe. Rajiv’s experience and crowd support surely helped as he edged out the Indian 17-21,21-19,21-18. Prannoy displayed great agility and fight, never letting the Brit take a sizeable lead. Although it was a disappointing end, the 22 year old will take home many positives from the exposure this oldest badminton competition has given him.
The 2015 All England Championships has produced edge-of-the-seat encounters even in the opening stages. It hasn’t been short of upsets either, with many favourites returning home dejected. Day 4 can only get better.