World No 1 needs less than an hour to beat Kidambi Srikanth, but fellow Indian Sindhu faces spirited challenge from He Bingjiao
Opening-day wins for Viktor Axelsen and PV Sindhu at Dubai World Superseries Finals
Viktor Axelsen got his campaign to defend the Dubai World Superseries Finals off to winning start when he beat India’s world No 4 Kidambi Srikanth at the Hamdan Sports Complex on Wednesday.
The Danish world No 1 took just 17 minutes to clinch the opening game 21-13. He was made to fight harder in the second, which he won 21-17 in a little more than half an hour.
Earlier, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei overcame Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long 21-14, 21-13 in the same Group A. Shi Yuqi of China got the better of Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei 21-19, 21-17 in Group B.
In the women’s singles draw India’s PV Sindhu, silver medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the World Championship at Glasgow in August, overcame a spirited He Bingjiao of China 21-11, 16-21, 21-18 in an hour and four minutes in Group A.
Akane Yamaguchi, the top seed from Japan, earlier defeated compatriot Sayako Sato 21-12, 21-19 in the same group.
Sung Ji-hyun, the two-time runner up in Dubai, suffered a straight game loss to Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in Group B.
Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan, defending champions in the women’s doubles category, were the high-profile casualties in the opening day’s play. They went down to compatriots Huang Yaqiong and Yu Xiaohan in straight games.
“It’s always difficult playing your compatriots,” Yaqiong said. “We train together all the time and know each other’s game. We’re still getting used to the conditions here.
“We’ve had a good year. The Superseries Finals has the best pairs in the world and winning here would be a big accomplishment.”
In another match in the same group, All England champions Chang Ye-na and Lee So-hee of Korea eased to a straight game victory over Japan’s Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto.
“When we saw our group, we knew we were in for some tough matches,” Chang said.
“It’s a good feeling to start with a victory, and it gives us confidence for the matches ahead. It’s been a while since we’ve won a Superseries, and we’re hoping to rediscover the winning feeling.
“But there’s still some way to go before we can think of that. There are some strong pairs in our group. We’re just happy that we had a quick win today.”
In pictures: Axelsen and Tai best at Dubai tournament last year
The top two seeds in the men’s doubles Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukamuljo of Indonesia made short work of Denmark’s Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Kolding 21-6, 21-16 in Group A.
“The Danes are tall and their attack is quite steep. Our defence was tested today,” Gideon said.
“Usually it’s difficult to find rhythm early in the tournament, but today we were able to get going from the start.”
Expect more action from the competition on Thursday and Friday from 9am-noon, and 1-9pm. The semi-finals will be played on Saturday from 10am-3pm and 4-9pm. The finals will be played on Sunday from 1-8pm.
Lee Chong Wei (MAS) bt Ng Ka Long Angus (HK) 21-14, 21-13
Viktor Axelsen (DEN) bt Kidambi Srikanth (IND) 21-13, 21-17
Shi Yuqi (CHN) bt Chou Tien Chen (TPE) 21-19, 21-17
Akani Yamaguchi (JPN) bt Sayaka Sato (JPN) 21-12, 21-19
PV Sindhu (IND) bt He Bingjiao (CHN) 21-11, 16-21, 21-18
Ratchanok Intanon (THA) bt Sung Ji-hyun (KOR) 21-19, 21-16
Marcus Gideon/Kevin Sukamuljo (INA) bt Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Kolding (DEN) 21-6, 21-16
Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda (JPN) bt Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (CHN) 21-17, 21-17
Liu Cheng/Zhang Nan (CHN) bt Lee Jhe Huei/Lee Yang (TPE) 21-19, 24-26, 21-14
Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (DEN)/ bt Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi (JPN) 21-18, 21-14
Chang Ye-na/Lee So-hee (KOR) bt Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto (JPN) 21-16, 21-10
Huang Yaqiong/Yu Xiaohan (CHN) bt Cheng Qingchen/Jia Yifan (CHN) 21-14, 16-21, 21-19
Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hiroto (JPN) bt Hsu Ya Ching/Wi Ti Jung (TPE) 21-13, 21-13
Kamilla Juhl/Christinna Pedersen (DEN) bt Jung Kyung-Eun/Shin Seung-Chan (KOR) 21-18, 21-10
Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet (HK) bt Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto (INA) 21-13, 14-21, 21-16
Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping (CHN) bt Tan Kiang Meng/Lai Pe Jing (MAS) 21-12, 21-11
Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (MAS) bt Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock (ENG) 21-18, 18-21, 21-14