Bangkok: Reigning champion Viktor Axelsen glided through his first match at the season-ending Badminton World Tour Finals in Bangkok on Wednesday, while the women’s No 1 unexpectedly lost to her Indonesian challenger.
The Badminton World Federation relocated the $1.5 million flagship event to the Thai capital after China’s tough covid restrictions forced the tournament out of Guangzhou.
To no one’s surprise, the men’s world No 1 Axelsen triumphed against China’s Lu Guang Zu, 21-13, 21-11.
The Dane has had a standout year, winning five Badminton World Federation (BWF) world tour titles as well as a clutch of European tournaments.
But there was upset for the women’s world No 1 Chen Yu Fei after she lost her first Group A match to Gregoria Mariska Tunjung, ceding 9-21, 21-14, 16-21.
“Today was the first day inside that I could not play as I wanted to,” said a despondent Chen following the match.
She was unable to “control the shuttles,” she said and added: “I could not control the game.”
Thursday she will face Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, who secured her third tournament win this year at the Japanese Open in September.
Elsewhere, Indonesians Jonatan Christie and Anthony Ginting duked it out 21-6, 10-21, 9-21 with Ginting claiming a group point.
And Thailand’s top seed and home-crowd favourite Ratchanok Intanon confidently beat compatriot Busanan Ongbamrungphan 21-15, 21-13.