One Olympic badminton singles champion was knocked out in the All England Open second round and the other almost joined him on Friday. Chen Long, ranked third, ought to have wiped the floor of Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, whom he’d beaten in their previous 11 matches. But Tanongsak bossed their match, forcing error-prone Chen to play catch up in both games. With two-time All England champion Chen breathing down his neck, Tanongsak held his nerve to win the last two points for 21-16, 21-19.
In the past year, Chen’s only win has been the big one, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The Chinese star was coming off a loss in the German Open semifinals last weekend.
Tanongsak withdrew from the Thailand squad five years ago to train independently. He failed to qualify for Rio but pulled off the biggest win in his 12-year international career when he won the Denmark Open in October. Since then he’s returned to being inconsistent.
“I’m more confident after winning the Denmark Open,” he said after beating Chen.
Carolina Marin broke China’s 16-year hold on the women’s Olympic singles, but China’s latest wonder, 19-year-old leftie He Bingjiao, was two points from eliminating the Spaniard at 21-15, 19-17.
Marin rallied by taking the last four points of the second game, and broke He’s spirit. Marin prevailed 15-21, 21-19, 21-10.
“I didn’t start well but am happy to have finished well,” said Marin, the 2015 All England champion.
Top-ranked Lee Chong Wei edged Tzu Wei Wang of Taiwan, who beat Chen to reach the German Open final, 21-18, 21-18.—AP