Women's top seed Xie Xingfang crashed out of her first tournament since return from injury, losing to Yip Pui Yin from Chinese Hong Kong 22-20, 21-19 in a dramatic first round of All England Championships on Wednesday.
Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong, reacts after beating number one seed Xie Xingfang, in the women's singles first-round match, at the All England Badminton Championships in the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, England, Wednesday, March 5, 2008.
Xie has won the All England title for the last three years but bowed out in 43 minutes to her unseeded opponent, becoming the tournament's first defending singles champion to lose in the first round in 19 years.
The 27-year-old was playing her first game of the season after missing out Malaysian and South Korean Super Series in succession due to a lower back injury.
Women's singles produced the biggest upsets of the day as Olympic champion Zhang Ning, seeded second, also went down to unseeded Yao Jie of the Netherlands 21-15, 19-21, 21-19.
The men's doubles were equally shocking with the falls of reigning champions Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong of Malaysia and second-seeded Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia, although top seeds Chinese pair of Cai Yun/Fu Haifeng were untroubled in their quick 21-14 21-12 win over Indonesia's Yonatan Suryatama Dasuki/Rian Sukmawan.
Kido and Setiawan, current world champions, lost to the Japanese and world number 12 pair of Keita Masuda/Tadashi Ohtsuka 21-19, 21-9 while Koo and Tan also fell at the hands of a Japanese duo Shintaro Ikeda/Shuichi Sakamoto 21-18 21-19.
Xie's boyfriend Lin Dan of China, current world number one, fought from one game down to beat Indian Anup Sridhar 16-21, 21-8, 21-11.
But the men's main draw brought about no major surprises with all the top seeds making an impact and booking their places in Thursday's second round.
Xie suffered a slow start, trailing 17-8 while Yip managed to exploit the obvious lack of match practise from the world number one.
Xie came back to level at 20-all only to surrender to the young Hong Kong player's penetrating attack and lose the opening game 22-20.
While the second game was extremely tight at the beginning with both players matching each other in all areas of their game, it turned out to be a repeat of the first towards the end.
Xie crawled her way back into 19-19 after 19-16 down. But she failed to force a decider, losing the final two points.
The ladies' doubles went in accordance with the seedings with only the number 8 seeds and home favourites Donna Kellog and Gail Emms disappointing by losing 26-24, 21-10 to their Indonesian opponents Jo Novita and Greysia Polii.
Spectators were joyful to see three home mixed pairs cruise into second round. The crowd stayed late into the evening to see Anthony Clark and Kellogg battle three games to book their berth in round two while Nathan Robertson and Emms rarely got out of second gear in their match.
The final British pair to make it through were Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier who saw off number 3 seeds Flandy Limpele and Vita Marissa from Indonesia.
(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2008)