Anders Antonsen made amends for a loss that has “haunted” him since last December, as he outplayed world champion Loh Kean Yew in the opening round of the YONEX All England.
The No.3 seed, playing his first match since losing in the semifinals of the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2021 to Loh, had his revenge with a solid performance against the Singaporean, 21-15 18-21 21-13. The world champion, on his part, showed glimpses of his best form but couldn’t quite string it together, providing enough openings for the Dane to exploit.
“So far everything’s ok but there’s a barrier I need to overcome, and I need to overcome it on the court,” said Loh. “His shot quality was much better than mine and he kept up the pressure.”
Antonsen, who had spent the off-season focussing on building his strength, said he was pleased with his performance.
“Of course I needed to be prepared for his speed. The last time I played an international match was against Loh, so right back in action against him, it was fun to get another chance to defeat him. I was eager to get on court.
“I was trying to build myself physically during the last two months. It was a tough one to start against him, and I played a long three-game match against him, but I’m really happy to get this one back, it’s been haunting me quite a lot since the World Championships. That’s the truth – it’s been one of those matches that I’ve been eager to run back, so I was happy to get him right away.”
Top Seeds Chen/Jia Upset
World champions and top seeds Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan fell rather tamely to unfancied Korean pair Jeong Na Eun/Kim Hye Jeong, 21-15 21-16.
While the Koreans played aggressively, the Chinese appeared well below their best, with Jia hampered by a strained thigh muscle, an injury that she’d sustained at last week’s German Open.
“Both of us were struggling, especially after German Open, and we haven’t recovered. My injury feels worse,” said Jia.
Stoevas Fall in Thriller
Stefani Stoeva and Gabriela Stoeva nearly got the better of second seeds Lee Sohee/Shin Seungchan, but failed to capitalise on their chances as they went down in 82 minutes, 16-21 23-21 23-21.
The Stoevas pulled ahead in the second game with six straight points to go ahead 19-17, and had match point at 21-20, but the Koreans never let go, and were rewarded at the end on their third match point.
“We are happy with our performance, but we missed the few chances we got, but that’s what the game is about,” said Stefani Stoeva.
“This is what Asian pairs are about – you need to be 200 per cent ready. You need to fight to get it, and we let them take our match point.”
Polii/Rahayu On Track
Greysia Polii tactfully avoided elaborating on her plans after she and Apriyani Rahayu ground out a 21-17 20-22 21-14 win over Maiken Fruergaard/Sara Thygesen.
Polii had indicated after her Olympic win that she intended to retire at the end of last year, but her appearance at the All England seemed to indicate a rethink. She left open the question of whether this would be her last event.
“It feels great to be at the All England. We want to focus on the win, we don’t want to think of anything else. I don’t know if I’m ready to talk of our plans. But we’re playing here and that means we have to give it everything. We’re taking it step by step.
“I really want to win here. We want to give it our best, but you never know – this could be our last All England.”
Rahayu, who had injured her right knee at last week’s German Open, said she was still recovering.