Winning starts for Tai, Marin

BANGKOK • World No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying came from behind to beat Indian star P. V. Sindhu in three games as badminton’s World Tour Finals began in Bangkok yesterday.

The 26-year-old Taiwanese lost the first game 19-21 against the Rio Olympics silver medallist before regrouping to win 21-12, 21-17 in 59 minutes.

“It was a good match, there were no easy points,” said Tai, who will face another tough assignment in her Group B match against Thailand’s former world champion Ratchanok Intanon.

In Group A, Spain’s Carolina Marin, looking for her third straight trophy of the three-tournament restart held in a bio-secure bubble in the Thai capital, dispatched Russian Evgeniya Kosetskaya 21-19, 21-14 in 40 minutes.

“The first game was tough after winning two back-to-back titles,” said the reigning Olympic champion. “Sometimes, for your mindset, it’s tough to be ready again for a new week, a new match and a new tournament.”

Like Marin, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen is also looking for his third successive title here and the world No. 4 got off to a solid start in the men’s singles, defeating sixth-ranked Indonesian Anthony Ginting 21-17, 21-8 for his 26th consecutive match victory.

But Ginting, who also lost to Axelsen in the semi-finals of the Yonex Thailand Open earlier this month, remains hopeful of prolonging his stay in Bangkok by getting through his two remaining Group A matches.

“I will prepare well. I still have a chance in this tournament, so now I will prepare myself for my match against Chou Tien-chen,” he said.

The delayed 2020 season finale is the third tournament in three weeks held behind closed doors, the first Badminton World Federation events to be staged in Asia since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in February last year.

The top eight players in each discipline are contesting this week’s tournament, although China and Japan chose not to fly to Bangkok over Covid-19 fears.

Despite the strict safety arrangements, four people inside the bubble have tested positive, including two players who were forced to withdraw.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BWF WORLD TOUR FINALS

Group stage: StarHub Ch201/202, noon & 5pm

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