Iskandar Zainuddin, Chen Long advance to China Open quarters

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It's nice to see Chen Long start playing badminton again. (photo: AP)

Fuzhou: With two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan’s extramarital affair continued to dominate headlines for all the wrong reasons since Thursday morning, BadmintonPlanet would like to take the opportunity to give the ongoing China Open some much-deserved attention.It's nice to see Chen Long start playing badminton again. (photo: AP)

In the absence of World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, and while other Malaysian shuttlers have fizzled out in the second round of the China Open, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin was able to keep the Malaysian flag flying by making it to the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Zainuddin was on the verge of elimination in the men’s singles second round before saving two match points, launching a comeback from 18-20 to clinch the decider 23-21. Zainuddin lost the first set 7-21, and took the second set 21-6.

Zainuddin faces an uphill battle to stay in China Open when he takes on reigning Korea Open champion, Qiao Bin on Friday. Zainuddin’s performance also drew some words of encouragement from World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei who was still recovering from a hamstring injury.

“Iskandar has the potential to be a world class player. It may be a little too late considering he is already 25-years-old, but he definitely has the quality to succeed in the world of badminton,” said Lee.

Home crowd in Fuzhou also witnessed the battle between rising badminton star Shi Yuqi, who won the French Open and Bitburger Open few weeks ago and the Olympic champion Chen Long on Thursday. The No. 2 seed Chen eventually overcame his junior 21-16, 21-13 to set up a quarter-final encounter with India’s Ajay Jayaram.

In women’s doubles, Malaysia’s Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei were sent packing by South Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chann, going down 23-21, 14-21, 13-21. In another closely fought women’s doubles match, unseeded Huang Dongping/Li Yinhui of China pulled off the biggest upset of the day by defeating No. 1 seeds and Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi of Japan 14-21, 22-20, 22-20 in 96 minutes to meet Gabriela Stoeva/Stefani Stoeva of Bulgaria in the final eight.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s mixed doubles No. 3 seeds Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying were knocked out of the tournament by unseeded Zhang Nan/Li Yinhui of China, losing 17-21, 19-21 in 49 minutes.

Zhang Nan/Li Yinhui will clash with No. 5 seeds Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen who have been in remarkable run of forms after winning the French Open and Bitburger Open in two consecutive week.

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