Badminton: 'Super Dan' through to second round at All England Open but Indonesian stars out

LONDON (XINHUA) – Two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, fighting for the hope of his fifth Olympic appearance, edged out an opponent half his age 13-21, 22-20, 21-10 in the opening round at the All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham on Wednesday (March 11).

The 36-year-old was drawn against Thai hopeful Kunlavut Vitidsarn but the 18-year-old, who has shown potential by clinching three straight junior world titles, gave the Chinese veteran a scare by winning the opening game 21-13.

But the six-time All England champion managed to fight back with his experience and unpredictable smashes, setting up a second-round encounter with compatriot Chen Long.

The reigning Olympic champion Chen ousted Indian Skrikanth Kidambi 21-15, 21-16.

“The opponent has played against me many times. We are familiar. I won today because I had better luck,” said the 31-year-old third seed.

The key upsets involved Indonesian stars Jonatan Christie and Anthony Ginting, seeded sixth and fourth respectively.

Christie, the 2017 SEA Games and 2018 Asian Games gold medallist, lost tamely 21-15, 21-13 to Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia, who succeeded him as SEA Games champion in 2019, while Ginting fell to Dane Rasmus Gemke 21-14, 21-18.

The men’s singles top seed Chou Tien-chen from Chinese Taipei beat Dutchman Mark Caljouw 21-19, 21-17. Denmark’s second seed Viktor Axelsen ousted Thai Sitthikom Thammasin 21-15, 21-13.

In the women’s singles, defending champion Chen Yufei overcame a slow start to see off South Korea’s world No. 9 An Se Young 14-21, 21-14, 21-15.

“A win here would definitely be great for the people of China,” said the 22-year-old world No. 1, referencing the coronavirus pandemic which originated in her country late last year.

“I’m a little bit worried about my family and friends in China, but I’ve had plenty of time to prepare for the game here.”

Singapore’s only representative in the tournament, Yeo Jia Min, was defeated by Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung 21-12, 21-17.

The second seed Tai Tzu-ying from Chinese Taipei and the third seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan both reached the last 16, overcoming China’s Cai Yanyan and India’s Saina Nehwal respectively.

Reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin will meet Chinese teenager Wang Zhiyi in the second round, after beating another Chinese player Zhang Yiman.

World champion and Olympic runner-up P.V. Sindhu from India, seeded sixth, is also through after defeating American Zhang Beiwen, a former Singapore player, 21-14, 21-17.

In the women’s doubles, the eighth-seeded Indonesians Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu lost to South Koreans Chang Ye-na and Kim Hye-rin 21-17, 21-15.

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