WUHAN, China: Superstar Lin Dan was made to sweat in front of anadoring home crowd but China breezed through their first group tiesin the Thomas and Uber Cups world team championships on Sunday. Quality was on show from Denmark, Japan and South Korea, but it wasEngland’s Rajiv Ouseph who threatened to spring a major surprise,before “Super” Dan, badminton’s most-decorated player, came throughin two games. World number 19 Ouseph pushed the reigning Olympic champion in anunexpectedly tight match, as the usually cool Lin let off sparks ofsurprise and frustration when a handful of smashes went into thenet and wide. “After starting well I broke my racket string and it took me toolong to adjust to the new racket.
It affected the attack gameplan,” Lin said, praising Ouseph’s performance. “All the matches here are equally important before the Olympics,”Lin added, underscoring the significance of this week in Wuhan, asplayers have a dress rehearsal before meeting each other on the bigstage in July in London. Lin’s teammates, including feisty world number three Chen Long, hadan easier time as they beat the plucky English 5-0 and rapidlyturned their attentions to Indonesia, who China face next in theirgroup and a key rival. “Indonesia is China’s biggest opponent in the Thomas Cup,” Linsaid.
“It doesn’t matter who I play. I take them all seriously,” he saidabout Indonesia’s choice to select Simon Santoso over Olympic goldmedallist Taufik Hidayat as first singles player. Playing on the court next to China were their rivals Japan, whotrounced New Zealand 5-0 and looked every bit a legitimatefrontrunner in the men’s competition. In the day’s earlier session, Denmark and South Korea also lookedimpressive contenders for a tournament neither country has won yet. Sintered NdFeB Magnets
The Danish men, finalists eight times, were never troubled by SouthAfrica in their 5-0 win and were well led by 35-year-old PeterGade, who hopes to silence critics after this season’s poor run ofresults. “Winning the Thomas Cup will be very difficult for Denmark becausethere are a lot of strong teams… but on a good day we can beatanyone,” said former men’s doubles world number one Mathias Boeafter his win with Carsten Mogensen. The toughest match in South Korea’s 5-0 victory over the USA camein the first doubles tie as Yoo Yeon-Seong and Ko Sung-Hyun beatHoward Bach and Olympic medallist Tony Gunawan in three closegames. Neodymium Ring Magnets
In the women’s competition, the Uber Cup, China are also seededfirst and the team demolished South Africa 5-0. In world number oneWang Yihan’s opening match, her opponent Kerry-Lee Harringtonmanaged just three points. The Chinese women’s squad is led by the three Wangs — Yihan, Xinand Shixian — who occupy the top three spots in the worldrankings. But in a sign of her stunning recent form, world number four LiXuerui has been picked to play the third women’s singles in Wuhan,with Wang Shixian playing doubles. Flexible Rubber Magnets
The Chinese women are aiming to lift the Uber Cup for a seventhtime, and erase the memory of their shock defeat in the 2010 finalin Kuala Lumpur by South Korea. Beginning the defence of their title against Australia, the SouthKoreans out-classed their opponents 5-0. – AFP/fa.