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Tai digs deep in All-England opener

World No. 1 comes from behind to beat Jindapol

Gulf News

Birmingham: World number one Tai Tzu Ying overcame an early wobble to reach the second round of the All-England Open in Birmingham on Wednesday.

The World Super Series champion from Taiwan came from 16-18 down in the first game against Nitchaon Jindapol to record a professional 21-18, 21-14 victory over the world number 16 from Thailand.

Tai has yet to win a title in European conditions, though she won notable events in Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Dubai last year, but the way she adapted to cooler, slightly drifty conditions augured well.

“I made a few mistakes,” Tai acknowledged. “But I tried to get more control. I improved and I want to improve some more.”

Her disguise and creativity also began to blossom in the second game, in which she moved rapidly to leads of 11-4 and 14-7.

She eventually finished in a more relaxed vein, perhaps giving her more confidence ahead of a second-round collision with Minatsu Mitani, the world number 28 from Japan.

Although Tai appears to be altering and enhancing her ability to perform well in unfamiliar conditions, she is not changing her attitude to what many regard as her greatest achievement.

Tai has said the number-one ranking does not mean much to her, but might mean a lot to her family.

Asked if that really represented her feelings, Tai replied: “Maybe not so much to them either, but perhaps to the people of Chinese Taipei.”

Almost simultaneously the new young hope from China, He Bingjiao, joined her in the second round, where she could meet the Olympic champion Carolina Marin.

He had to save two game points in the second game of a 21-12, 22-20 success against Kim Hyo Min, the South Korean world number 48, but showed herself as a potential high-level danger with her angular left-handed attacks.

Another Chinese player, Tian Houwei, the seventh men’s singles seed, dealt capably with a dangerous first-round win against Tommy Sugiarto, the Asian champion from Indonesia.

Tian produced a consistently athletic game of containment against Sugiarto’s ambitious attacks and recovered from a 14-18 first-game deficit to win 21-19, 21-18.

Earlier it took a mere five points for the first seeded player to depart.

Son Wan Ho, the fourth men’s singles seed from South Korea, retired with an unspecified injury after only a handful of rallies against Sony Dwi Kuncoro, the former world silver medallist from Indonesia.

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