Okuhara dethroned as both No. 1s also tumble

The Associated Press NANJING, China (AP) — World No. 1s Tai Tzu Ying and Viktor Axelsen were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the badminton world championships on Friday.

Also, alongside men’s defending champion Axelsen, women’s titleholder Nozomi Okuhara was ousted.

Tai’s defeat was the biggest surprise, as the Taiwanese lost for only the second time this year in 37 matches, beaten by He Bingjiao of China 21-18, 7-21, 21-13.

“I didn’t expect to win, because Tzu Ying is such a terrific scorer, that even if I have a lead like 19-10, I won’t win for sure,” said He, who is through to her first worlds semifinal.

Axelsen, a Dane, became the first European male winner of the worlds in 20 years last year, ending Chen Long’s two-year reign. Chen gained revenge by beating Axelsen 21-19, 21-11 in an hour.

“I stuck with my tactics no matter how my opponent was doing — taking a lead or falling behind,” Chen said. “I firmly believed that I could go all out to win this match.”

Chen will next face Chinese compatriot Shi Yuqi, who edged Taiwan’s Chou Tien Cheng 16-21, 21-15, 21-18 in a come-from-behind victory.

Okuhara had beaten Pusarla Sindhu of India in a marathon 2017 final, but Sindhu got her back on Friday, winning 21-17, 21-19 in less than an hour.

To reach the final again, third-seeded Sindhu will have to go through another Japanese, second-seeded Akane Yamaguchi.

Yamaguchi gained her own revenge against Chen Yufei, who knocked out the Japanese star in the third round last year at her first worlds. Yamaguchi won the rematch 21-13, 17-21, 21-16 in 68 minutes. She is a former two-time junior world champion who became in April the first Japanese male or female to rank No. 1.

On the men’s side, unseeded Darin Liew beat Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan 22-20, 21-23, 22-20, after blowing three match points in the second game.

Liew lined up a semifinal clash with Japan’s Kento Momota, also unseeded. Momota, winner of the Asian title in April, reached his first worlds semifinals since 2015 after beating Sai Praneeth of India 21-12, 21-12.Speech

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