No easy ride for All England seeds
Ji Xinpeng, the world number eleven from China, increased his chances of qualifying for the Olympic Games at the expense of world champion Sun Jun when he saved a match point in a dramatic opening day match at the All-England championships in Birmingham. Ji looked to be heading for a surprise defeat when he stood at 11-14 down in the final game against Martin Hagberg, the Swedish player who had lifted his standard to well above that of a man ranked in the eighties. But a slight increase in the tempo of Ji's play was enough to regain serve, triggering a six-point sequence which turned the contest and carried him to a 15-8,6-15,17-14 victory. "He was playing too slow in the second game and for the first half of the third, and then especially from 10-10 in the third," said China's head coach Li Yongbo. But Ji's ability to respond when it really mattered gave him a second round with the Austrian Jorgen Koch, and further success could see him close the gap in the rankings between himself and Sun. The world champion missed last month's Thomas Cup in New Delhi and is still sidelined this week with an ankle injury, making it crucial for him to try to play in next week's Swiss Open. There are only six more weeks before the Olympic qualifying cut-off date. Three Chinese players are likely to qualify for Sydney and Luo Yigang, who is not competing this week, and Chen Hong are already above Sun Jun. Chen came through his opening match 17-15,15-9 against the Korean Thomas Cup player Lee Hyun-II. Hendrawan, the fifth seed from Indonesia, also had to dig himself out of a hole, coming from 6-9 down in the final game to overcome the Danish qualifier, Niels Christian Kaldau 5-15,15-9,15-10. This left another Dane, Anders Boesen, the only seed to fall by the wayside on the opening day. An increasingly important part of the Danish squad since the string of injuries suffered by former world champion Peter Rasmussen, Boesen's 10-15,15-8,15-7 loss to the Malaysian Ismail Saman was a significant blow to the 13th seed's hopes. The only minor surprise in the women's singles was the first round defeat of the Commonwealth champion Kelly Morgan, who had been hoping to improve her chances of an Olympic seeding. But the Welsh player let slip a lead of 6-5 in the final game against Mette Pedersen, whom she had beaten to reach the European final two years ago in Sofia, and the Dane's lively performance gained her revenge by 8-11,11-4,11-6. Stay with World Badminton Online for all the action from the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships.