It was curtains for India in the Indian Open Super Series after young shuttlers Sourabh Verma and RMV Gurusai Datt suffered straight-game defeats in the quarterfinals of the men's singles at the Siri Fort Complex on Friday.
Giant killer Sourabh, who had beaten Athen Olympics bronze medallist Sony Kuncoro of Indonesia and seventh seed Kenichi Tago of Japan on his way to the quarterfinals, suffered a 7-21 8-21 defeat against World number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia.
While, Datt went down fighting to world number 20 Hu Yun of Hong Kong 10-21, 16-21 in a 35-minute match. Datt had beaten fourth seed Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand and Yuhan Tan of Belgium in the first two rounds here.
It was always going to be a David versus Goliath battle and hopes started to fade the moment Sourabh and Lee took the court as the top seed Malaysian toyed with the junior player, playing the first Super Series of his career.
Sourabh's challenge lasted for the initial six points as after that Lee just toyed with his opponent and raced away with the first game. The Beijing Olympics silver medallist was more ruthless in the second as he tired out Sourabh by making him run all across the court, playing an array of strokes to pocket the game comfortably.
"I am disappointed as I couldn't play to my potential. I know I can play better. I couldn't adjust to the court and pace of the game. He had a lot of variations and he was using the drops and smashes very well. A lot of my smashes were going out. I need to work harder," Sourabh said.
However, the Madhya Pradesh lad said he has taken a lot of confidence from the tournament.
"It has given me a lot of confidence. The guys who are outside the top 10 bracket, they are beatable but for the top 10 players, I have to put on a lot of hard work. Gopi sir has told me I have to play more international tournament.
"From here I go back to Hyderabad and then sir will decide what are the tournaments which I can win and according I will play," he added.
However, Lee had some words of encouragement for Sourabh and said with a little bit of experience, he can be a good player in future.
"He is a strong player. He is a junior and he has beaten some top players here. He will learn with experience and will do well in future," he said.
Asked about his game today, Lee said he just wanted to enjoy and had a good match.
"I tried my best and enjoyed myself. I am playing the Hong Kong player and I will do my best to win the Indian Super Series," he said.
Other Indian in fray, Datt also found the going tough against world number 20 Hu and succumbed to a lot of unforced errors to crash out of the event.
Hu will take on Lee in the semifinals on Saturday. After losing the first game rather quickly, Datt had conjured up hopes of another upset when he led 11-5 but Hu's deft net play and smashes left the Indian gasping as the Hong Kong player first drew parity at 14-14 before finishing the game, conceding just two more points.
"I didn't get the length right. He has a lazy kind of style and played his strokes late. He was better at the nets. I felt the shuttler was a little slow, I played my best but he was better today," Datt said.
"I should take the confidence ahead and be more consistent. I have to work on my strength and endurance. I am leaving for Malaysia tomorrow. Hopefully I will do well there," he added.
Among others, second seed Indonesian Taufik Hidayat was sent packing by sixth seed Korean Sung Hwan Park 17-21 17-21 in 46 minutes to set up a clash with Peter Hoeg Gade in the semifinals on Saturday.
The third seed Dane beat Takuma Ueda 23-21 21-10 in another quarterfinals of the men's singles.
Taufik blamed his quarterfinals loss to food problems and said he was not left with enough power.
"I am not able to eat properly and so was not fully in power today. I was low on energy and it was an off day for me. Next I will be playing in the Malaysian Grand Prix," he said.
In the women's singles, Sayaka Sato of Japan beat Jiayuan Chen 18-21 21-15 21-15 to set up a semifinal clash with third seed Youn Joo Bae of Korea, who defeated seventh seed Jie Yao of the Netherlands 21-13 21-18 in another match.
Fourth seed Pui Yin Yip of Hong Kong will face Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand in the semifinals. Pui beat Inthanon Ratchanok 21-17 21-15, while Porntip got the better off Juan Gu of Singapore 21-16 23-21.