China’s world No. 1 mixed doubles pair were given a scare in their opening match at the badminton world championships yesterday after dropping the first game in an intense clash.
Top-ranked Ma Jin and Xu Chen lost their opening game in Guangzhou 18-21 to unseeded Danish pair Mads Pieler Kolding and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, who found answers to their trademark nimble play and dynamite smashes. Xu sent back scorching returns of up to 277kph, leaping in the air for his overhead shots, but the Danes held their nerve and withstood the onslaught.
The home crowd fell into a nervous hush as the Danish pair went 10-6 up in the second, but the Chinese duo pulled it back to take the game 21-17.
A frenetic third game saw Xu nailing acrobatic shots, including one behind his back, as the crowd roared him on.
The Chinese No. 1s eventually claimed the victory in just under an hour, pumping their fists and shouting as they won the third game 21-13.
“It was very difficult to win today. We started out by making a lot of mistakes and giving too many points,” Xu told reporters after the match.
“Ma Jin controlled the net and I think that it made the difference,” he said.