Paris: After losing to Kidambi Srikanth of India in the second round of Denmark Open last week, two-time Olympic gold medalist Lin Dan of China suffered another shocking three-set loss to Kazumasa Sakai of Japan in the opening round at French Open on Wednesday.
Lin Dan got off to strong start in the first set when he was able to move Sakai to all corners of the court and claimed the first set win with 21-9.
However, Sakai regrouped and fought off Lin Dan in the second-set with 21-14, before capturing the decider 21-14.
“I did not have the mental endurance needed to win the match. I made too many easy unforced errors in the second and third set,” said Lin Dan after the match.
Lin Dan believed his was still physically fit to compete, but he just couldn’t stay focused.
“I have been trying to strengthen my mental toughness after the Asian Games, but was somewhat unsuccessful, and I would evaluate my performance with my coaches,” added Lin Dan.
“It is true that Badminton World Federation (BWF) had set up a lot of tournaments for this year, and we were forced to participate in those tournaments in order to collect more points, therefore, sometimes we didn’t play a good quality game.”
Despite his recent slump in form, the former World No. 1 Lin Dan told reporters that he will continue to play at few other upcoming tournaments in which he had registered before taking a break at the end of the season.
Sakai will play compatriot and current World No. 1 Kento Momota in the next round.
Other Chinese men’s singles player including No. 2 seed Shi Yuqi and No. 6 seed Chen Long have both advanced to the second round. Shi will meet Angus Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong while Chen Long will play Jan Jorgensen of Denmark on Thursday.