Badminton: Liang falls at first hurdle

Liang Xiaoyu struggled to keep up with China's Sun Yu in the first round.
Liang Xiaoyu struggled to keep up with China's Sun Yu in the first round.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Singapore's top female shuttler Liang Xiaoyu was expected to provide a stiff challenge when she faced world No. 12 and defending champion Sun Yu yesterday at the OUE Singapore Open.

But her defiance against the Chinese lasted just 35 minutes as as she tumbled out in the first round, losing 18-21, 4-21.

In the first set, the 19-year-old provided a glimpse of her giant-killing abilities that saw her defeat world No. 4 Ratchanok Intanon at last October's Thailand Open, matching Sun at 18-18 before eventually giving up the set.

While Liang was not intimidated by Sun's imposing 1.83m frame, she struggled to find a way to overcome her opponent and the harder she tried, the more errors she made.

The world No. 42 said: "Her legs and arms are longer so I wanted to make her run more, but then I couldn't control my strokes and made mistakes.

"Her attack was not as powerful as I thought it would be. But my opponent made it difficult for me to earn points. Probably because my shots are not much of a threat for her.

"When the score was 18-18, when I wanted to win the set, I became impatient. And when I am impatient, it's easy to lose points."

Surprise qualifier Grace Chua put up greater resistance in her match against Japanese world No. 14 Sayaka Sato, but her more experienced opponent proved superior, beating the Singaporean 21-11, 21-11.

Chua said: "It was a good learning experience for me today. This standard is much higher than what we have at training. She's much faster and stronger in her returns.

The 20-year-old said she was thankful to qualify for her first Superseries main draw after being called up as a last-minute replacement for two injured team-mates.

Singapore's men's doubles pair Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Hendra Wijaya progressed to the second round by defeating Malaysian pair Tai An Khang and Yew Hong Kheng 21-18, 21-19.

The qualifiers will next face 18th-ranked Japanese duo Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda today. Said Chrisnanta: "We didn't expect ourselves to go this far in the competition. To win today is already a bonus for us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2016, with the headline 'Liang falls in 35 minutes'. Print Edition | Subscribe