The months away from competition made little difference to the favoured names on the opening day of the DANISA Denmark Open 2020, with the seeds making short work of their opponents in the first HSBC BWF World Tour event since March.
While there was talk of jitters, it was business as usual for the big guns in action on Tuesday – be it Beiwen Zhang or Carolina Marin in the singles, or Marcus Ellis/Chris Langridge, Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock or Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in the doubles.
The only surprise, to an extent, was the loss of Line Kjaersfeldt to junior compatriot Line Christophersen, 21-18 21-18. The fast-rising Danish singles prospect, who is playing her first Denmark Open, faces a formidable challenge next as she takes on Marin.
Zhang, having shut out Germany’s Ann-Kathrin Spori 21-9 21-11 in 29 minutes, said she was still some way off from her best.
“I didn’t really prepare well, but I’m really excited to come back. It was like I wasn’t used to it (competition), because we’d stopped for so long. But I missed the court. I couldn’t train hard because I didn’t have a physio, so I had to take time to come back slowly. Compared to earlier, I’m not that strong, but I’m happy I can play. Today I felt my condition was much better than what I expected. I’m excited… when you see friends coming back, you’re touched.”
Marin too was barely troubled by Russia’s Natalia Perminova, taking 28 minutes to decimate her opponent 21-7 21-15.
The Spaniard said she happy to be back, although she wasn’t satisfied with the level of her play today.
“I didn’t feel I gave my best on court. I didn’t feel in good shape today. But I have some training tomorrow and I will prepare for Thursday.
“I feel happy to be back, finally. We only have one tournament (SaarLorLux Open) for the rest of the year. The most important thing for us is our health and we have to try to enjoy being back on court, getting the competition feeling because we miss it, and to give our best in every game.”
Popov Brothers Progress
Christo Popov didn’t have a bright start to his campaign, falling 21-9 21-15 to Lakshya Sen in the opening match of the day, but the Frenchman had better luck in the doubles while teaming up with his brother Toma Junior.
The Popov brothers – both singles specialists – fought off a first game deficit to Denmark’s Mouritz Troels Munk/Oscar Sunekaer and were rewarded with a quarterfinals spot, since their second round opponents, top seeds Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda, had withdrawn.
“We just play for fun. If we win, it’s a bonus, but we never train doubles. This is our first doubles match since the Barcelona Spain Masters. So we needed one game to get into the match,” said Toma Junior. “We got a walkover from the Japanese and are in the quarterfinals, so we feel very lucky.”