Dhiren and Dev
Twin brothers Dev and Dhiren Ayyappan gave it their all before losing to Indonesian third seeds Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-14, 21-17. Image Credit: James Varghese/Badminton Photo

Dubai: The KhiladiX.com Dubai 2023 Badminton Asia Championships witnessed its first biggest upset with defending champion Lee Zii Jia crashing out in the men’s singles first round match at Al Nasr Club on Wednesday evening.

The Malaysian third seed and world No 4 went down fighting to Hong Kong’s 17th-ranked NG Ka Long Angus 21-19, 21-16 in a match that saw the Malaysian leading initially before the lead exchanged hands frequently. Long Angus booked a second-round meeting with Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama.

In contrast, Singaporean seventh seed Loh Kean Yew received a major boost in his men’s singles first round as he got the better of India’s promising star Lakshya Sen in straight games 21-7, 23-21.

Fighting spirit

“He (Lakshya) is a very good player, so it was not easy to play against him. His fighting spirit is very good as well. So, I am quite happy that I managed to win this match today. This is a very important tournament, the Asian championships, because we are going into the Olympic qualification. So, hopefully, I can do well in this tournament,” said Loh Kean, the 2021 world champion who next plays Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu.

Among others, Indian eighth seed H.S. Prannoy was happy to be back in Dubai after India’s historic bronze medal winning show at the Mixed Team Championships in February. “It was a good first round match. From tomorrow, matches are going to be tough. I hope to give my best shot tomorrow. It is going to be a tight schedule this year, so playing consistent matches will be more important,” said Prannoy, who defeated Myanmar’s Phone Pyae Naing 21-14, 21-9. The Indian face Indonesia’s promising star Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo on Thursday.

Loh Kean Yew
Singaporean seventh seed Loh Kean Yew defeated India’s Lakshya Sen in straight games 21-7, 23-21. Image Credit: James Varghese/Badminton Photo

Home challenge ends

As the real battle for the continental crowns began on the day, the home challenge ended with UAE players Bharath Latheesh and twin brothers Dev and Dhiren Ayyappan losing their respective men’s singles and doubles matches.

Despite losing 21-14, 21-17 to Indonesian third seeds Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, the Ayyappan brothers displayed flashes of their brilliance through their quick footwork and brilliant combination to support each other.

“It was a surreal moment once we stepped onto the court. Happy to finish fighting. We learnt a lot from these championships, especially how to control the game and not let go of the lead,” said Dev, looking forward to playing more tournaments for UAE.

Latheesh, meanwhile, went down poorly to Japanese fourth seed Kodai Naroaka 21-4, 21-6.

Close matches

In women’s matches, the encounters too went down to the wire, but the seeded players booked their rightful place in the next round.

While top seed Akane Yamaguchi was stretched to the limit by unseeded Malvika Bansod from India before she won 23-21, 21-19, defending champion Wang Zhi Yi from China was surprised by the fighting spirit of Myanmar qualifier Thet Htar Thuzar, who rallied from 3-11 to level 20-all before losing 21-11, 23-21.

Wang is already through to the quarter-final after a walkover from the second-round opponent from Thailand Pornpawee Chochuwong and is expected to face top seed Akane Yamaguchi in the last eight match.

India's P.V. Sindhu was stretched by Chinese Taipei's Wen Chi Hsu before the eighth seed won 21-15, 22-20 on Wednesday. Image Credit: James Varghese/Badminton Photo

India’s P.V. Sindhu, the two-time Olympic medallist and eighth seed in the championship, was returning to the Emirate after winning the bronze medal at the Mixed Team Championships in February.

“Every time the first match is like knowing the court and its conditions. I was leading the second game, but then she gave away a few points. Happy to be on the winning side. Definitely, I want to play the final on Sunday, but it’s not going to be easy,” said Sindhu, who overcame a scare in the second game before defeating her Chinese Taipei opponent Wen Chi Hsu before she won 21-15, 22-20.

Chinese Taipei’s fourth seed Tai Tzu Ying was happy to return to Dubai, a place where she has won two BWF Super Series Finals titles in 2014 and 2016. But she admitted that she was not at her best today. “I played OK today — it wasn’t too great. The stadium is small; so I took time to adjust to the conditions here. I hope it will be better from the next matches,” said the Olympic silver medallist, who defeated Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min 21-17, 21-18.

The Dubai 2023 edition, sponsored by Sobha Realty, and powered by Floxi is competed by around 300 players from 28 nations battling for the continental crowns.