ONE veteran has come out of retirement while the other is finding her way back to the top after a career-threatening injury.
And it will be a miracle indeed if Zhou Mi of Hong Kong or Tine Rasmussen of Denmark were to win the World Championships women’s singles title.
World No. 1 Zhou Mi said that she had been enjoying an amazing journey since making a comeback after leaving the Chinese national team in 2005.
She took almost a two-year break before resuming her career under the Hong Kong banner and steadily moved up to become the top ranked player in the world ahead of an array of shuttlers from China.
“I am surprised to be standing here as the world No. 1 and top seed of the championships. This is the first miracle for me,” said the 30-year-old Zhou Mi.
“A world title is missing from my collection. And if I do win it here, it will be the second miracle for me since coming out of retirement.”
Zhou Mi added that she had not forgotten her roots.
“I will always be indebted to China for nurturing me and helping me to be where I am today,” she said.
“I know that several young Chinese players are here to make a name for themselves. I know the journey they go through because I have been there before. I wish them well in this tournament.”
Those representing China in the championships are Xie Xingfang, Lu Lan, Wang Lin and Wang Yihan. Except for Xingfang, the others are relatively new faces in the China team.
Like Zhou Mi, the 30-year-old Rasmussen said that it was unbelievable that she was competing in the championships, considering that she only resumed full training about one-and-a-half weeks ago.
She had to go for a heel treatment after the All-England in March and stayed out of competition for almost four months. She did not compete in any tournament, except for the European Championships.
“The injury on my right heel was quite bad. The pain was unbearable and I had to do something about it to save my badminton career,” said the lanky Dane.
“I was only able to play my normal game recently. So, it is really unbelievable that I am standing here today. Not many would have made the trip in this condition.
“I have not set any targets. I will be happy with some good results. I have not played a single match here yet (following withdrawals) and will only start playing tomorrow. It will tough but let us see.”
Rasmussen has a record of beating overwhelming odds, like she did to win the 2007 Japan Open and the 2008 All-England titles. She also defeated China’s top players to win the 2008 and 2009 Malaysian Open and the 2009 Korean Open.
Today, Zhou Mi and Rasmussen will take on Ai Goto of Japan and Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong respectively in third round matches.