In the quarter-finals of the BWF World Tour Super 750 Fuzhou China Open event, the top seeds in all five categories found their way through to the semi-final stage. Among them, Tai Tzu Ying in women's singles and Kento Momota in men's singles were prominent names.
Japan's Momota, the current World champion, faced a tough fight from the man who held the world title before him, Viktor Axelsen. The Dane had lost the last 11 matches he had played against the world no. 1 player and this time, came out with determination.
Momota, who likes to play long rallies and suck the energy out of his opponents, did the same in this match. But Axelsen was desperate to win and kept on retrieving shots of his opponent. Still, Momota kept going on and on and forced the former world champion to make errors. In this way, the first game went the way of the Japanese.
But in the second game, Axelsen came out firing and showed more intensity. Rather than allowing Momota to coast along at his preferred pace, he started taking the advantage in the rallies. Momota could only fight back towards the end but it was too late as the match went into a decider.
Momota continued to test the stamina of his opponent and started hitting more winners in the third game. Still, the Dane kept fighting till the end. But after the mid-game interval, the game seemed heading inexorably towards the World Champion as he started dominating rallies again and forcing an exhausted Axelsen to commit more errors. The final scoreline was 21-18, 12-21, 21-16.
In the women's draw, Tai Tzu Ying also had to play an extra game as her South Korean opponent Kim Ga Eun won the second game. But Tai was back on top soon and completed the match with a 21-15, 11-21, 21-13 win.
Another high-profile game on the day was between Nozomi Okuhara of Japan and HE Bing Jiao of China. Like her compatriot Momota, Okuhara is known for her incredible stamina and great retrieving ability. She combined that, in this match, with great skills to completely dominate Bing Jiao and earn a comfortable 21-12, 21-11 win.
The match between Ratchanok Intanon and Chen Yu Fei was closely watched, not only to see who progresses, but also to assess whether Chen has fully recovered from her injury. It was a one-sided affair and the Chinese girl showed her quality by winning 21-15, 21-13.
Michelle Li, winner of last week's Macau Open, continued her good form by reaching the semi-finals with a 21-16, 23-21 win over Busanan Ongbamrungphan.
In men's singles division, while the World champion went through, the Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie faced disappointment due to a one-sided defeat against Denmark's Anders Antonsen. Another person from the same country who qualified for the semis was Rasmus Gemke with a win, in three games, against NG Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong.
The fourth person in the semis would be second seed Chou Tien Chen thanks to a comfortable victory over host nation's Lu Guang Zu.
So, the semis would see a contest between Tai Tzu Ying and Nozomi Okuhara on one side, and Michelle Li vs Chen Yu Fei on the other. Chen is the defending champion and the only Chinese left in singles categories. She would have the full support of the crowd.
Tai vs Okuhara is a repeat of the Denmark Open final. That match was won by the former. Will she continue her good run of form? Only time will tell.
In the men's category, Kento Momota is the hot favourite against Rasmus Gemke. The other match between Antonsen and Chou would be interesting.