All England: Injured Jia Tests Her Resolve

On paper, the upset of the day at the YONEX All England 2024 was top seeds Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan crashing out to Pearly Tan/Thinaah Muralitharan in the second round.

It was the first win for the Malaysians in six matches against the Chinese, and a welcome Super 1000 quarterfinal after early exits in four of their last five tournaments.

Yet the Malaysians refused to read too much into their performance today, for they knew that Jia was carrying an ankle injury going into the match.

Tan and Muralitharan celebrating their progress.

Yesterday, in the Chinese’s opening match, Jia had slipped on court and hurt her ankle. What had prompted them to take the court today?

“Yesterday after the match I said I would like to give it a try on court, since I can rest for a night before playing again,” said Jia. “I had a discussion with my partner, and we agreed to try. We thought that if this happened at the Olympics, we need to prepared for the situation. I wanted to put myself in a situation where, even when I’m not fully fit, I could still play and see how they respond.

“During the match, there were some rallies that I really was not capable to hit back. I wasn’t able to move as fast as usual, so that gave our opponents quite a lot of opportunities to attack. This also led to some impact on my partner, in terms of rhythm on court.

“I think now we will go back and rest. We can swallow any loses and bounce back before the Olympic Games.”

It was a gambit, one with a long-term goal, and an example of the mental strength that the Chinese possess, for the Malaysians had to earn their victory.

Christo Popov in Quarterfinals

Meanwhile, another significant result was Christo Popov reaching his first Super 1000 quarterfinal, a “proud moment” for the Frenchman, who grew up watching the All England on YouTube.

“I was in the men’s doubles quarterfinals, but in singles this is my first time,” said Popov. “I’m very proud of it. I just can’t wait to go on court tomorrow, and the All England is a very special tournament. It’s kind of a dream to play here.

“My first memory was watching videos of Peter Gade. My dad was always passionate about badminton. It was just amazing watching Peter Gade, Taufik (Hidayat), Lin Dan and (Lee) Chong Wei. So being here and performing is just amazing.”


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