CHINA OPEN 2012 Day 1 – Lin wins while Dan signs

Lin Dan and Wang Lin were the two celebrities involved in day 1 of the Li-Ning China Open – the fifth and last Premier of the year. Wang Lin won her ticket to the main draw while the Olympic champion Lin Dan was in Shanghai to promote his biography.

By Raphael Sachetat.  Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live)

At least, the spectators were able to see their hero.  It may only have been for a few minutes, but it was better than nothing as the Shanghai crowds knew full well prior to this qualification day that Lin Dan (photo) was on a break and would not play until further notice. There was a very, very long queue in the Shanghai Pudong Gymnasium to see the two-time Olympic champion.  Wearing sunglasses and surrounded by heavy security, Lin Dan came to the event to promote his biography Until the end of the World a phrasee that he also has tattooed on his arm – in English.

He will not participate in the event, which is the last Premier and the second to last major event before the Finals, in Shenzhen, which he did not qualify for as he lacks points from tournament. But he looked quite relaxed and happy not having to put on his sports gear and wearing his own brand instead.

On court, before the signature session, most of his younger compatriots were fighting to get a ticket for the main draw. Amongst them was Wang Lin (photo), the former World Champion who is still struggling to get past the first rounds of big events, hence having to go through the qualifying stage. In a splendid, bright but empty hall, Wang beat back-to-back U.S.’s Jamie Subandhi and Indonesia’s still hopeful Belaetrix Manuputi (21-18, 21-19) to clinch her pass to the main draw, where she is to play Porntip Buranaprasertsuk – one of the highlights of Wednesday’s program. Suo Di, Deng Xuan and Nichaon Jindapon were the other three players to enter the draw in the women’s singles event.

In the men’s singles, recently crowned World Junior Champion Kento Momota (photo) enjoyed a bye in the first round – as Chen Yuekun was promoted to the main draw – but then beat 2000 Singapore Youth Olympic hero Pisit Poodchalat to earn a spot on the main draw where he will play in-form Hu Yun. Gao Huan, Tian Houwei and Qiao Bin were the ther lucky – or talented – winners of the day and will get to participate in the main event.

Viktor Axelsen and Simon Santoso  (Seeded 3) did not make the trip to Shanghai have been replaced while Saina Nehwal also will be missing the event. In the doubles, Ahsan/Setiawan, Septano/Wiriawan and Bodin/Issara are the missing pairs of a very strong event, while Olympic Champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei have already lost by a walkover – Yunlei is also out of the women’s doubles together with Tian Qing.

A big question mark remains regarding the participation of Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli as the pair is still in the draw after all withdrawals have been recorded. Yu Yang had announced her retirement from badminton after the Olympic controversy and fans are probably eager to see whether she has given it a second thought and wishing to come back to high-level competition.  Wang/Yu are likely to be in contention for the Finals come Sunday as they are currently exactly 11,000 points behind Tian and Zhao, the only active pair to have ever beaten them.

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