SUDIRMAN CUP Day 1 – Li and Merrilees split the spoils

The tightest Day 1 tie by far came when the Canadians came back from the brink of defeat to prevail over Scotland 3-2, with two points coming from Commonwealth Games […]

The tightest Day 1 tie by far came when the Canadians came back from the brink of defeat to prevail over Scotland 3-2, with two points coming from Commonwealth Games gold medallist Michelle Li.

By Aaron Wong, Badzine correspondent live in Gold Coast.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

The excitement and tension on Day 1 was palpable throughout Canada and Scotland’s Group 2A encounter.

Kieran Merrilees (pictured) knew his match was a must win and explained that Scottish hopes rested on both singles and men’s doubles to pull across the line: “I’ve been focusing on getting well since suffering food poisoning on Friday.  We only have one singles player (which is me).”

Merrilees showed no signs of recent illness in brushing aside Jason Anthony Ho-Shue, 21-18, 21-12.  Rather, the flat offence and defence were nearly faultless and if you had to pick one shot that did the damage it was repeated pushes deep into the singles service area.  It was Ho-Shue who launched into flat rallies but failed to find a solution against somebody more adept at the same skill set.

“It’s a nice stadium although there is a little bit of wind.  This is where my experience could have helped me”, added the Scotsman.

The titanic tussle between former top 20 women’s singles players Michelle Li (pictured) and Kirsty Gilmour lived up to expectations by reaching 17-17 in the rubber game, with Scotland on the verge of clinching the tie, needing only a few more points from the two-time European Championship runner-up.  Li must have known that Gilmour would bounce back strongly after the first game deficit.

This rematch of the 2014 Commonwealth Games final again went to the Canadian care of Gilmour sending a flat clear conveniently into the hitting zone of her taller adversary and the late deadlock was broken.

“It feels a little strange,” said Michelle Li after the match.  “It’s been so long since I’ve played this level of international matches.  I’m not used to playing such tight points.

“I made sure not to put pressure on myself or else my shots won’t work or I could get injured again.  [Initially] I was holding my racquet too tightly but I finally found a comfortable grip and then some holes on the court.”

Nor was Canada out of the woods.  Jason Anthony Ho-Shue, with just one match rest, was back on court for the fourth match with Nyl Yakura (pictured), who had himself already dropped a point for the team in mixed, and the two-time Pan Am Champions faced match point at 20-21 in their second game with Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh.

The Canadians clawed back to take the game and then the match and that evened the score for Pan Am Games bronze medallists Li and Rachel Honderich to clinch the tie with an easy win in women’s doubles.

Click here for complete Day 1 results

Aaron Wong

About Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong only ever coveted badminton's coolest shot - a reverse backhand clear. He is renowned for two other things: 1) Writing tournament previews that adjust the focus between the panorama of the sport's progress, down to the microscopic level of explaining the striking characteristics of players; 2) Dozing off during men's doubles at the London Olympic Games. Contact him at: aaron @