Badminton: China sweep Canada in Uber Cup opener, Thais upset Chinese Taipei in Thomas Cup

China's He Bingjiao (above) beat Michelle Li when she retired due to a reoccurring foot injury after losing the first set 21-12. PHOTO: AFP

AARHUS, DENMARK (XINHUA) - The Chinese women's badminton team swept Canada 5-0 to win their Group D opener at the Uber Cup in the Ceres Arena here on Saturday (Oct 9).

World No. 9 He Bingjiao set off to a good start for the 14-time champions, beating Michelle Li who retired due to a reoccurring foot injury after losing the first set 21-12.

"I did not want to hurt any more today. Maybe I pushed one of the steps too hard. After that, I don't want to get things worse," said the 29-year-old Olympian.

Being the highest-ranked shuttler ever in Canada, the world No. 11 told Xinhua that she spent lots of time healing and did not want to take any setbacks.

"I'm looking forward to the future tournaments. This is a smart move for bigger picture. I want to go back to Canada and continue rehab for some time," said Li.

Li Wenmei and Zheng Yu then defeated Rachel Honderich and Kristen Tsai 21-10, 21-13 in the first doubles to grant China a 2-0 lead. The two pairs had played once in 2018 and Zheng recalled it not an easy one.

"Michelle Li's retirement made us show up much earlier than planned. We might not have enough warm-ups, but it did not matter. We were into the game very quickly," said 25-year-old Zheng.

The third match featured two young talents from both sides. 21-year-old Wang Zhiyi smashed 17-year-old Rachel Chan 21-19, 21-13 in their Uber Cup debut.

"I saw Chan's games in the Sudirman Cup. She has strong play, a bit closer to men's style. It's not surprising that we were playing so close in the first set. We were trying to challenge each other," said Wang. "The tempo is not right for me but I can manage it.

"I'm always looking forward to the chance to participate in the team event where I can improve quickly," Wang said in excitement, talking about her first Uber Cup tour.

In the following doubles, Chinese duo Liu Xuanxuan and Xia Yuting collected their easy win over Catherine Choi and Talia Ng 21-6, 21-4 in 26 minutes.

In the final match, 21-year-old Han Yue overwhelmed 19-year-old Zhang Wenyu 21-12, 21-7, sealing the victory for China.

The Chinese team, who in 2018 failed to make the final for the first time since joining the competition in 1984, will face Malaysia on Sunday.

In the men's Thomas Cup, Thailand upset Chinese Taipei 3-2 in Group A, with Suppanyu Avihingsanon overhauling Chi Yu-jen 11-21, 25-23, 21-12 in the deciding third singles.

In the Uber Cup Group C, South Korea thumped debutantes Tahiti 5-0 while in Group A, Indonesia beat Germany 4-1 and Japan thrashed France 5-0.

This year's events were postponed by a year owing to Covid-19.

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