BIRMINGHAM (AFP) — World champion Zhu Lin went crashing out of the first round of the All-England Open championships, complaining of feeling too tired.
The seventh-seeded Chinese player was hardly in it after the first game of a 21-17, 21-11 defeat to her compatriot Jiang Yan-jiao, in which she finished looking too lethargic to seriously contest the outcome.
For a while, as she led 11-6 and 16-10, Zhu's fine movement looked as though it might take her to a routine victory over a colleague still ranked outside the top 20.
But when that suddenly slowed, her ability to win points almost halted altogether, and Jiang, finding clever angles with her left-handed attacks, took nine in a row.
That effectively sealed the first game, and from 6-6 in the second game Jiang took seven points in a row, with the frail-looking Zhu ended the match looking physically and emotionally shattered.
Her efforts in losing a long three-game final against Wang Yihan at the German Open in Mulheim only three days before may well have left her with insufficient time to recover.
"I felt all right coming here, but then I felt too tired in the second game," admitted Zhu. "My game depends a lot on running, and so maybe that affected my form."
Asked why her form sometimes reached very high levels but also sunk lower than some of her rivals, Zhu answered: "It's normal to have this when your physical strength is not as great as other players."
Jiang next plays Bae Youn Joo, a lucky loser from Korea who became a winner when she overcame Salajkit Ponsana of Thailand. If Jiang wins again she could play another compatriot, Lu Lan, the world number three.
All the other top names came through satisfactorily, though Tine Rasmussen, the top-seeded titleholder from Denmark had to come from 6-9 and 8-11 down in the first game before producing too many attacking weapons for Xing Aiying, the China-born Singaporean in a 21-17, 21-15 victory, and the two former All-England champions, Xie Xingfang, and Zhou Mi, both won comfortably in the other half.