Chinese shuttler's loss to unranked rival raises eyebrows
Chinese badminton is once again coming under fire after world No 3 Du Pengyu's shock loss to unranked Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka at the Indonesia Super Series event.
The sport's governing body, the Badminton World Federation (BWF), has long been concerned about players withdrawing from smaller events and teammates pulling out of matches to avoid competing against each other.
The issue blew up at last year's London Olympics when four women's doubles pairs from China, South Korea and Indonesia deliberately played to lose their matches in order to get a more favourable draw.
The BWF disqualified all four pairings and banned them after the farcical scenes sullied the sport's reputation.
In Jakarta, Du lost 21-15 15-21 21-9 to home favourite Rumbaka to leave China, the dominant force in world badminton and the winner of all five gold medals in London, without a player in the men's singles or doubles.
While Du credited the impressive play of Rumbaka for the surprise defeat, more sceptical observers said Chinese shuttlers saved themselves for bigger events and did not take the smaller tournaments, such as the US$700,000 Indonesian event, seriously.
"I don't want to take any credit away from Hayom but Pengyu hardly gave a fight in the rubber game," Malaysia coach Rashid Sidek was quoted as saying by Malaysia's The Star newspaper.
"Pengyu is the top seed in the Singapore Open next week, but I won't be surprised if he does not live up to the billing.
"These players are more concerned with the world meet and will not push themselves as they do not want to risk any injuries."
Du told Indonesian media: "It is normal in every tournament, there are wins and losses. I did not play very well today while Hayom was outstanding out there with his strong smashes and defence."
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Yip Pui-yin took the first game against Olympic reigning champion Li Xuerui of China but that was the best she could offer in the women's singles semi-finals as the world number one won 17-21, 21-11, 21-11 win after 53 minutes. Li will now meet Juliane Schenk of Germany in the final today as the fourth seed overcame second seed Saina Nehwal. In the men's final, top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia will meet unseeded Marc Zwiebler, also German.