All England: An Injury Scare, A Passing Cloud

It was a fleeting moment, but sometime during the second round match of the YONEX All England 2024 between Michelle Li and Mia Blichfeldt, a passing cloud briefly brought to focus concerns bigger than a win or loss.

With Li leading a game and 17-14, Blichfeldt slipped on court and stayed down for a while. A worried Li walked up to the net, concerned about her opponent’s wellbeing. This is not an uncommon sight in badminton, but Li has first-hand experience of how terrible injury can be.

The Canadian herself is coming back after an injury layoff. She’d had meniscus tear on her right knee last August which needed surgery, spent over four months recovering, and had to rush her return in January as it was an Olympic year.

Li sharing a conversation with Blichfeldt after their duel.

Nor was this an isolated case. After the 2016 Olympics it took her a year to return to the circuit after surgeries to her hip and knee.

And so, on Wednesday, as she watched Blichfeldt stay down on the floor after slipping on court, Li’s concern was backgrounded in her personal experience of the pain and struggle of injury.

“I would never wish that on anybody,” Li said. “The last six months have just been really really tough, and just to see it happen, I really hope she’ll keep playing and I hope it isn’t anything serious. I felt worried, but at the same time I had to stay focused.”

The win was particularly significant as Blichfeldt had won their last meeting, in the semifinal of the German Open two weeks ago.

“This time I was more ready for her shots, her intensity, her speed,” said Li. “Last time I hadn’t been exposed to it for a long time. This time I felt more comfortable, so I could hit more of my shots. She’s very strong, very aggressive, at the net and at the back. She has a big presence on court, that’s her biggest strength.”

Li during her match with Blichfeldt.

Of her own progress, the world No.19 was pleased.

“Every week I feel a bit better. The leg is getting better and I’m getting more used to my shots. I still make a lot of unforced errors that I never used to. So there’s a lot of things that I need to clean up. But that takes time. It’s hard to come back and be what I was before. It takes time to build, and I want to build better than I was before. As the leg gets better, I think the confidence will go up, and I just have to keep working and I have to take one day at a time.”

And while Blichfeldt was in tears after the loss, she gave credit to Li for playing better than her. She said she hadn’t been able to keep up the level that she showed at the German Open. Thankfully the injury hadn’t been serious.

“I felt like I got a stretch in the hamstring, and my knee is not 100 per cent so I got a bit nervous,” said the Dane. “I’m disappointed with the loss. I didn’t feel like I could find my game today, and Michelle played really well. She made it difficult for me and it was hard for me to change my tactics.”

Other Highlights

» Korea’s world champions in men’s doubles and mixed doubles crashed out at the first hurdle. Seo Seung Jae/Chae Yu Jung fell in just 29 minutes to Ye Hong Wei/Lee Chia Hsin; Seo returned for the men’s doubles with Kang Min Hyuk and the result was no better, as they crashed out in 35 minutes to He Ji Ting/Ren Xiang Yu.

» French Open champion Shi Yu Qi was tested all of 81 minutes by Rasmus Gemke, eventually coming through by the tightest of margins, 18-21 23-21 21-19.

» Another tight contest was in mixed doubles, with Robin Tabeling/Selena Piek saving two match points on their way to victory over Mathias Thyrri/Amalie Magelund, 14-21 21-13 24-22.


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