China’s World No. 1 one mixed doubles pair was given a scare in the first round of the badminton World championships on Tuesday after dropping the first game in an intense clash.
Top-ranked Ma Jin and Xu Chen lost their opening game in Guangzhou 18-21 to unseeded Danish pair Mads Pieler Kolding and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, who found answers to their trademark nimble play and dynamite smashes.
Xu sent back scorching returns of up to 277 kilometres per hour (172 miles), leaping in the air for his overhead shots, but the Danes held their nerve and withstood the onslaught.
The home crowd fell into a nervous quiet as the Danish pair went up 10-6 in the second, but the Chinese duo pulled it back to take the game 21-17. A frenetic third game saw Xu nailing acrobatic shots, including one behind his back, as the crowd roared him on. The Chinese eventually took victory in just under an hour, pumping their fists and shouting as they won the third game 21-13.
India’s Saina Nehwal will begin her campaign for an elusive medal against lower-ranked Olga Golovanova in the women’s singles, while male shuttler Ajay Jayaram will look to continue his good form in the second round here on Wednesday.
London Olympics bronze medallist, Saina reached the quarterfinals in 2009 and 2011 and would look to better her record this time but the 23-year-old from Hyderabad will have to be on her guard as her first match could be tricky. But after a six-week break, the Commonwealth Games champion is fully fit now and will look to seize the advantage this time as even the draw is also in her favour.
Meanwhile, Ajay Jayaram, after a stunning victory against world No. 12 Wing Ki Wong, will now take on Spaniard Pablo Abian, who had beaten the Indian at the Spanish Open in 2009.
Important results: Women: First round: Sayaka Takahashi (Jap) bt Jing Yi Tee (Mal) 21-17, 21-17; Marin Carolina (Esp) bt Adrianti Firdasari (Ina) 21-15, 21-11; Kaori Imabeppu (Jap) bt Aprilla Yuswandari (Ina) 21-18, 21-10; Sarah Walker (Eng) bt Kate Foo Kune (Mar) 21-11, 21-17; Belaetrix Manuputi (Ina) bt Sandra-Maria Jensen (Den) 21-6, 21-19.
Mixed doubles: Ma Jin & Xu Chen (Chn) bt Mads Pieler Kolding and Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den) 18-21, 21-17, 21-13; Tontowi Ahmad & Liliyana Natsir (Ina) beat Jian Guo Ong & Yin Loo Lim (Mas) 21-14, 21-11. — AFP