Fri, 17 Sep 2021

TOKYO, July 24 (Xinhua) -- China's badminton squad opened their Tokyo Olympic journey on Saturday with victories in all of their five matches, sailing smooth to the next round of group play.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the badminton competition was played in an almost empty stadium at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.

In the mixed doubles, world No.1 and top-seeded Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong romped to a 2-0 (21-5, 21-10) win over the Egyptian pair of Elgamal Adham Hatem and Hany Doha.

Despite being a first-timer in the Olympics, Zheng and Huang are among the favorites for the title, as they are two-time world champions and also won the gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Speaking of their first-ever journey to the Olympics, the Chinese pair said that the Olympic atmosphere on-field, on the whole, might be not as heated as before because of the pandemic, but the stress and pressure have by no means diminished.

"We are not in our best condition yet," said Zheng. "We hope that from the next game, we can bring out our best and quickly go into the game from the onset."

Their compatriots Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping were made to work hard before defeating German duo Lamsfuss Mark/Herttrich Isabel 24-22, 21-17.

Huang said that they were a bit against wind in the first game, but at the end when they were behind they kept going ahead. "We thought that as long as we hold on, they will surely make mistakes, so at last we got it over."

Wang said he was stressed before the game started. "When I got up this morning, a feeling suddenly came to me that Olympic Games has now really begun!" But he also admitted that appropriate pressure will push him to perform better on the court.

In the men's doubles, China's sole pairing Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen ousted American duo Chew Phillip and Chew Ryan 21-9 and 21-17.

In the women's doubles, the two Chinese pairs - Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan and Du Yue/Li Yinhui comfortably triumphed over Thai duo Kititharakul Jongkolphan/Prajongjai Rawinda and Denish pair Fruergaard Maiken/Thygesen Sara in straight sets.

Meanwhile, world No.1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei breezed past Swiss Jaquet Sabrina in the women's singles.

Tai, holding the world No.1 ranking for the longest period, has yet to claim a gold medal at the World Championships, nor at the Olympics.

"I haven't been performing very well, especially at the Olympics, so I hope I can improve my performance during these Olympics," Tai said, adding that she aims to win a medal in Tokyo, but that it doesn't have to be gold.

In one of the upsets of the day, world No. 47 Zilberman Misha of Israel defeated Indian No. 13 seed Bhamidipati Sai Praneeth 21-17, 21-15 in the men's singles.

"I have played him three times, and three times I have lost. He is a very good player. Maybe from 10 matches against him, I win only one," Zilberman said of his Indian rival.

The group play will last until next Wednesday and the medalist competition will run from July 30 to August 2.

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