Thursday March 7, 2013
Xuerui suffers shock defeat to Yeon-ju in first round
EVEN the best have their moments of weakness.
And so it was for world No. 1, Olympic champion and defending champion Li Xuerui of China as she was dumped in the first round of the All-England yesterday.
Despite the shocking 18-21, 18-21 loss to South Korean Bae Yeon-ju in 42 minutes, the 22-year-old Xuerui remained calm and composed.
It was her second first round loss in her young but accomplished career. She had also lost in the first round of the Korean Open in January – retiring at 7-7 against Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk with an injury.
“All the shuttlers are at almost the same level now ... I lost to a strong player today,” said the modest Xuerui, who has won almost all the majors, except for the world title.
“I was trailing 14-17 in the second game but managed to catch up. But I made some costly mistakes and did not apply the right strategy. There are some personal issues which I must overcome,” she said, without elaborating.
The 22-year-old Yeon-ju, who had also beaten Xuerui in the last year’s Korean Open, is likely to face Eriko Hirose of Japan next.
Although Xuerui lost, China are not fretting.
They still have several top guns to challenge for the title – Wang Yihan (third seed), Wang Shixian (6th), Jiang Yanjiao and newcomer Li Han.
With the likes of Tine Baun, who is determined to end her career on high at the All-England this year, Saina Nehwal of India, Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand and Germany’s Juliane Schenk in the fray, the women’s singles competition will surely be one of the most competitive ever.
For the record, Baun won the All-England in 2008 and 2010.