Sha Tin teenager wins fans' hearts after battling through despite heavy fall
Hong Kong teenager Yip Pui-yin produced a great fightback to upset Japanese 11th seed Kanako Yonekura at the world championships yesterday, saving two match points before advancing to the last 16.
The 18-year-old from Sha Tin clawed her way back from a game and 10-12 down to pull off a sensational 8-11, 13-12, 11-9 victory at the Arrowhead Pond that was comfortably the biggest win of her career.
'I think she felt the pressure more than me,' Yip said after her one-hour 32-minute battle. 'I didn't have anything to lose but I never imagined I could beat a seeded player.'
Yip, the world number 76, started playing senior events on a regular basis only this season after competing in junior events for much of 2004. Yet against Konekura she displayed a maturity that belied her tender years.
She also won the hearts of a large contingent of Chinese fans with her never-say-die approach, relentlessly chasing lost causes with little regard for her own safety.
Yip needed prolonged treatment to her hip after a heavy fall in the decisive third game just after taking a 9-8 lead. She got to her feet to loud applause before closing out the match.
Yip said she had been inspired by her vocal support and the exhortations of the SAR coaching team. 'I could hear the fans and the coaches were telling me to come on, and that gave me confidence,' Yip said.
Yip's dubious reward for downing Yonekura is a third-round meeting with top seed and tournament favourite Zhang Ning of China today. 'I've never played her before and she is a big favourite but I will try my best,' Yip said.
Coach Chan Chi-choi could not hide his admiration for Yip. 'For somebody with so little experience it was a great performance,' he said. 'She kept fighting for every single point. Whatever happens against Zhang Ning she has shown her potential here. She can be one of the big hopes for the future.'
The SAR will have two entrants in the last 16 of the women's singles. Fourth seed Wang Chen, who had received a bye in the first round, opened her account with a 11-0, 11-1 victory over Sara Persson of Sweden, the world number 45.
Wang, aiming to become the first Hong Kong player to win a medal at the world championships, now faces Japanese ninth seed Eriko Hirose today.
In the men's singles, ninth seed Ng Wei secured his last 16 berth with a 15-9, 15-7 defeat of Canada's Andrew Dabeka. Ng has a daunting third-round tie with Chinese seventh seed Chen Hong. Agus Hariyanto was unable to join Ng in the next round as he was outclassed by China's Bao Chunlai 15-7, 15-4.
China's top-seeded favourite Lin Dan, meanwhile, served notice that he will be the man to beat in the men's draw, demolishing Kennevic Asuncion of the Philippines 15-1, 15-3 in just 20 minutes.
There were contrasting fortunes in the doubles events for the SAR's shuttlers. Li Wing Mui and Albertus Susanto Njoto fought bravely before losing 15-4, 10-15, 15-3 to experienced English 13th seeds Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg.
Susanto and men's doubles partner Liu Kwok-Wa, the 15th seeds, were made to sweat by Japan's Toru Matusmoto and Keishi Kawaguchi, coming from behind to win 14-17, 15-12, 15-5.
Albertus Susanto Njoto
Yip Pui Yin