Story by Jan Lin/Red Sports. Photos by Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports.
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Wednesday, 11 June, 2008 – Despite being tagged world number 147, Singapore’s Gu Juan created the biggest upset on the second day of the 2008 Singapore Badminton Open, when she outplayed Hong Kong’s world number 12 Yip Pui Yin in the first round of the annual Championship.
The 21-year-old Yip Pui Yin has been creating waves in the international badminton circuit after finishing runners-up at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha and also recently came in 2nd runners-up at the 2008 Badminton Asian Championship in Johor Bahru.
Despite having to come through two qualifying matches to face the tournament’s 6th seed in the first round of the main draw, Gu Juan was full of gusto this afternoon. The China-born Gu Juan has already done the Republic proud in the badminton junior circuit since donning Singapore colours in 2005.
Gu Juan claimed silver at the 2007 Asian Junior Championship in Kuala Lumpur and bronze at the 2007 World Junior Championship in New Zealand. Playing in her third Singapore Open this year, the nimble player has already recorded a memorable victory.
Yip Pui Yin had no answer to Gu Juan’s creative flair and composed play this afternoon, falling behind right from the start and had absolutely no chance to take the lead in the first set. The second set started off with both players neck-and-neck, but Yip continued to struggle with the unfavourable court conditions, allowing impatience to get the better of her.
Conversely, persistence and patience were the main ingredients of Gu Juan’s success this afternoon. Gu Juan’s ability to break away from their 7-all deadlock in the second set to then extend and maintain a healthy six to seven-point lead throughout the game was testament to her deserving victory today.
The soft-spoken Singaporean said in a post-match interview, “I’m very happy. This is my first time playing against her, so there wasn’t any expectation or pressure on me. I was very comfortable and relaxed on court today and I hope to stay that way for the rest of the tournament, taking a match at a time.”
Gu Juan will take on India’s top junior shuttler Saina Nehwal for a ticket to Friday’s quarter-finals tomorrow. The world number 30 Indian national also scalped an upset against Netherland’s world number 17 Yao Jie in a gruelling 52-minute tussle that concluded 21-19, 19-21, 21-13.
Earlier in the day, Singapore’s world number 71 mixed doubles pair of Chayut Triyachart and Shinta Mulia Sari also registered a spectacular 22-24, 21-13, 19-21 victory over world number 15 pair of Chen Hung Ling and Chou Chia Chi hailing from Chinese Taipei. The Singapore pair now faces an uphill task against world number 8 pair of Anthony Clark/Donna Kellogg in the round of 16 tomorrow.
For full results of the 2008 Singapore Badminton Open, see here.
More pictures in the gallery.