American naturalised Zhang Beiwen caused the biggest upset in the Toyota Thailand Open on Friday as she knocked the top seed and world No 2 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan out at the quarter-final stage at the Nimibutr National Stadium in Bangkok.
The world No 12 went into the contest trailing 5-2 in the head-to-heads but put up a gutsy fight to send the Uber Cup-winning team member packing with a 14-21 21-19 21-19 win after 49 minutes.
“I’ve played her many times and she has beaten me more. I never thought I wouldn’t be able to win today,” said Zhang, who moved from Singapore and settled in Las Vegas in 2012.
“I normally don’t want to rally long, just one or two shots. Neither of us could hit at our top level today as the shuttle was a bit heavy. So it was hard to change direction,” added Beiwen, who turned 28 on Wednesday.
She will take on another Japanese Nozomi Okuhara, the reigning world champion edging a nail-biting contest against countrywoman and 2016 Thailand Open victor Aya Ohori 21-12 15-21 21-19.
Beiwen will be chasing her second crown of the season, having won a Super 500 title in India and reached the final in the Super 300 US Open earlier this year.
“I want to win but I don’t want to think too far ahead. When I think too much, my mind goes somewhere else,” the American added.
In other women’s singles last-eight action, 2017 world junior champion Gregorina Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia reached her first semi-final in a Super 500, upsetting Canadian Michelle Li 21-17 21-8.
“It’s not easy to make a transition from the junior to the senior tour,” said the highly talented teenager, who has world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan as her idol. “You have to be physically stronger and mentally tougher to stay at the level of the good players. I still have a lot to improve.”
The last semi-final spot was booked by second seed and world No 3 Sindhu V. Pusarla of India, who relied on her attacking game to eliminate Soniia Cheah of Malaysia 21-17 21-13.
In the mixed doubles, English top seeds and world No 6 Chris Adcock and his wife Gabriella edged out Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti of Indonesia 21-18 18-21 21-18.
In today’s semi-final they will face Taiwanese third seeded Wang Chi-Lin and Lee Chia Hsin, who ousted Japan’s Yuki Kaneko and Mayu Matsumoto 21-14 21-17.
Indonesian eighth seeded Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja also moved ahead into the semi-finals after they toppled Chinese Xiangyu Ren and Tang Jinhua 21-14 21-15. Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai lost to Lu Kai and CHen Lu of China 21-10 18-21 21-13.