World No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying wins first international match in 8 months
Taipei, Jan. 12 (CNA) Taiwanese badminton player Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) returned to international competition after an eight-month break with a victory at the Yonex Thailand Open in Bangkok on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old Tai, the top-seeded player at the tournament, met 18-year-old Thai player Benyapa Aimsaard in the opening round and narrowly won her first international match since last March, 21-18, 26-24.
Her last tournament was the YONEX All England Open, where she won the women's singles title, before the Badminton World Federation's event calendar was disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
It was a rollercoaster match for Tai against Benyapa, a last-minute replacement in the draw for another Thai player who pulled out of the event.
Tai led the first game 18-13 before her opponent scored five straight points to pull even, but Tai rallied to clinch the game by rolling off the next three points.
The world No. 1 struggled to put away her Thai opponent in the second game. She had to save a game point against her and needed six game points of her own before taking the match.
Though there are no Chinese players in the draw, there are still several top-ranked players competing who could test Tai, including her next opponent, Kim Ga-eun of South Korea, currently ranked 17th in the world.
Four other Taiwanese players in the Thai tournament, the first of three held as a series in Bangkok, are scheduled to compete in their opening match on Wednesday.
In the men's singles, Chou Tien-chen (周天成) and Wang Tzu-wei are set to meet Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand and Brice Leverdez of France, respectively.
Meanwhile, sixth-seeded pair Lee Yang (李洋) and Wang Chi-lin (王齊麟) will take on non-seeded Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen of Denmark in the men's doubles.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, China decided not to take part in the three events in Thailand, while Japanese player Kento Momota, the top seed in the men's singles, was forced to withdraw after he tested positive for COVID-19 before he left for Bangkok.
(By Lung Po-an and Kay Liu) enditem/ls
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