Thursday 24 August 2017
Carolina Marin’s defence of her TOTAL BWF World Championship crown got underway in perfect fashion with a convincing first win in Glasgow.
The Spaniard came flying out of the blocks in the Emirates Arena, overcoming Hong Kong’s Yip Pui Yin 21-5 21-7 in just 28 minutes on Court One.
The scoreline was fully indicative of the dazzling display she delivered, showing little nerves in making sure she was not of the many early casualties in the competition – not feeling the expectation of being one of the tournament favourites.
“I feel really happy to have won my first match here at the World Championships and it was an important game for me because the first one is always tough,” she said.
“I need to keep calm and think about what I have to do against my opponent.
“I don’t feel any pressure because I know as the defending champion everyone is watching me, but I want to fight and get the gold medal here.”
Meanwhile there was a surprise in the very first game of the day on Court One, as Chinese top seeds Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen were knocked out of the men’s doubles.
That came courtesy of a three-game classic from Mohammad Ahsan and Rian Agung Saputro, coming from behind in fantastic fashion, 19-21 21-18 21-18.
They may not be seeded for the competition but the Indonesians are certainly not short of pedigree, with Ahsan the defending champion having lifted the title with Hendra Setiawan in Jakarta two years ago.
“We are very thankful for the win and we enjoyed the game today and are really happy with the result,” said Ahsan.
“Being world champion twice before definitely helps, I can enjoy myself more and I just want to play my best together with my new partner and that’s how we approached the game.”
The pair also took motivation from results earlier in the week, notably the shock of Lee Chong Wei’s early exit to Brice Leverdez on Tuesday.
Saputro added: “Seeing Lee Chong Wei knocked out yesterday gave us extra motivation because we saw that nobody is impossible to defeat.
“We tried our best to defeat the number one seeds today.
“It’s taken time to adapt and learn to communicate with a new partner and we’re trying to improve in that all the time.”
There were no such early-exit troubles for Lin Dan however, with the five-time champion setting up a last-16 clash with England's Rajiv Ouseph.
He had to do it the hard way though, coming from one game down to get the better of Emil Holst 19-21 21-8 21-16.
And with this the second match of his tournament so far, there’s a sense of improvement coming with each shot he plays, particularly with the desire for yet another crown.
He said: “My opponent performed very well in the first game, but after that I adjusted my strategy and performed very well.
“Lee Chong Wei being knocked out means the competition is more exciting and every player should try their best to play very well.
"Of course, my motivation in tournaments will always be the gold medal and here that is no different.
“Along the way you will always have to play very hard matches so I am very pleased to come through this one."
The TOTAL BWF Badminton World Championships 2017 is being staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena from 21-27 August. Tickets still available here.
Article and film by Sportsbeat.
History was made on finals day at the TOTAL BWF World Championships as Viktor Axelsen became the first European player to win men’s singles gold in 20 years.