(Photo: Badminton Photo)
Blichfeldt leaves Sindhu stunned, and it’s revenge for England
Date: 1/12/2021 1:42 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
We are finally underway at the greatly anticipated first of two Thailand Opens. Fans following the action on day one were certainly getting their money’s worth! 

The vast majority of the matches on court today went to three games, which is perhaps a reflection of players not having had competitive badminton for such a long time. Many players are returning to court in front of the lights and cameras for the first time since March 2020, and it showed. 

The match of the day
Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt scored the big surprise of the day when facing World Champion P.V. Sindhu. Their previous three encounters have been in the Indian’s favour, however, the last match at the 2019 Indonesian Open, where Blichfeldt was able to force a decider perhaps indicated a step in the right direction for the European Games gold medallist. 

Sindhu started solidly, leading all the way to a 21-16 opening game. The first half of the second game was much the same, at one point Sindhu leading 14-8. Blichfeldt was able to pull it back level. The two then exchanged the lead seven times, each squandering game points. The plucky Dane won on the fourth attempt and forced the decider, ending 26-24. 

After an early lead for Sindhu, Blichfeldt was able to step up in level and surged to a memorable win with a 21-13 victory. 

-This win today means a lot to me. I have been struggling with my body for the past year, but now I am satisfied that I am back on track. I’m not training as much as I would like to, but I am getting there, Blichfledt said with a beaming smile. 

Sindhu, in addition to limited competitive play recently stepped away from the national training centre in India to move to London, where she focused on recovery and nutrition. However, Sindhu is not using this as an excuse.

-I can say that it was not my day because I played really well in the first game. In the second game, I should have finished it but there were some unforced errors on my side. In the third game, I gave Mia a huge lead, it was not my day today basically.

Blichfeldt goes onto play USA’s Iris Wang, who has been training not far from her opponent in Denmark at Badminton Europe’s Centre of Excellence. Wang defeated Blichfeldt’s compatriot Line Kjærsfeldt in three tough games. 

Axelsen looking good
Viktor Axelsen, who’s last action on a badminton court in front of an audience was to win the All England Open, comes to Bangkok with high expectations. Playing the same opponent he played in the opening round in Birmingham, he has improved by allowing Thailand’s Sitthikom Thammasin 10 fewer points. Winning 21-12, 21-6 in amongst all the tight three matches certainly caught the eye today. 

Axelsen’s next opponent will be another Thai player in Kantaphon Wangchareon, who made swift work of Sai Praneeth in two games. Their only encounter was at the 2019 Singapore Open. Axelsen had to go to three in that one to win it. Will it be the same this time around? 

Gemke made to sweat
In the all-Danish clash between Rasmus Gemke and Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, new star versus experienced campaigner, the latter nearly produced an upset. Vittinghus came out strongly winning the first game but found himself 15-8 down in the second. Despite characteristically not giving up and pressuring the game, Gemke held on to win 21-18 and then pulled away in the decider to win 21-13. 

Revenge is sweet
Both English men’s doubles came up against opponents they had not defeated before. Marcus Ellis/ Chris Langridge were against Thai favourites Bodin Isara and Maneepong Jongjit and were able to turn the tables around and win handsomely, 21-13, 21-10. Next, they face the winner of Hess/Jansen and Leydon-Davis/Manota. 

In a repeat of the Denmark Open semifinal, Ben Lane/ Sean Vendy faced the powerful Russians Vladimir Ivanov/ Ivan Sozonov. In almost a carbon copy of that match, the Russians took the opening game before the English duo battled to hard-fought second game win. As they did in Odense, they continued momentum into the early part of the third game, but this time they were able to maintain their level and take the win 21-17. 

Lane/Vendy will now face the Olympic silver medallists Goh V Shem/ Tan Wee Kiong of Malaysia. 

For the full results and fixtures, click here.

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