(by Steve Hopkins)
Only Chinese players advanced to the Quarterfinals in Macao – a star-studded list of players that included Zhendong, Xu Xin, Ma Long, and Gaoyuan as the favorites. After those four matches, it was two of the lesser-known competitors grabbing the headlines.
World No. 1 Fan Zhendong fell to Xu Yingbin 3-1. Xu won the first game with a marathon 18-16 score, taking aggressive forehands to win the last two points. Fan won the second game 11-9 to even the match score, but Xu Yingbin dominated the last two games to secure the victory. The style of the two players was similar – but it was Xu’s forehand power that stood out, keeping Fan Zhendong on his heels and pulling balls wide of Fan’s forehand for winners.
World No. 2 Ma Long met a similar fate, losing the first two games to Wang Chuqin before falling 3-1. Both Xu Xin and Lin Gaoyuan won their matches – Gaoyuan edged Lin Shidong 3-2 and Xu Xin dominated Xiang Peng 3-0. Sunday, it will be Xu Yingbin versus Lin Gaoyuan in one Semifinal and Xu Xin versus Wang Chuqin in the other.
The Women’s Singles event has run exactly as expected. The top seeds all advanced and tomorrow it will be Chen Meng against Wang Manyu and Sun Yingsha against Liu Shiwen.
Action picks up tomorrow morning in Macao.
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