London Olympic champion Li Xuerui returns to badminton after 600 days injury layoff

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Li Xuerui's comeback will be a huge boost to Chinese women's badminton. (photo: AP)
Li Xuerui's comeback will be a huge boost to Chinese women's badminton. (photo: AP)

Beijing: The former Olympic and world champion Li Xuerui, sounding content and looking fit as she returned to her first international tournament at the BWF Tour’s Lingshui China Masters on Wednesday after she was sidelined for 600 days by her leg injury.

Li has been out of action after she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and injured her lateral meniscus when she lost the badminton women’s singles semi-final at Rio Olympic to Carolina Marin of Spain.

At the 2018 Lingshui China Masters, the 27-year-old Li was able to battle past her junior Chen Nianzu 21-18, 21-16.

“I was struggling early in the match and was a little nervous. It’s my first international match after coming back from injury. Although I have been sparring with my teammates, but I was still feeling strange on the court,” said Li.

“I look forward to go as far as possible in the tournament, but my recovery process has been slow. I hope to find my rhythm as soon as possible,” added Li.

In men’s singles, No. 4 seed and the No. 2 men’s singles player of Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Lee Zii Jia suffered a stunning loss to unseeded Li Shifeng of China, losing 18-21, 17-21. Meanwhile, another BAM player No. 7 seed Iskandar Zulkarnain and two Malaysian independent players were able to advance to the third round. Zulkarnain saw off Ren Pengbo, No. 2 seed Daren Liew was able to beat Bai Yupeng 21-15, 21-14 while No. 6 seed Chong Wei Feng outlasted another Chinese player Liu Shumin 21-8, 21-18 in 47 minutes.

Zulkarnain will take on Weng Hongyang while Liew will meet Heo Kwang Hee of Korea on Thursday. Chong Wei Feng, on the other hand, faces Yang Chih Chieh of Taiwan next for a spot in the quarter-final.

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