Jakarta: Too slow? Too tired? Too old? Lin Dan of China who has been regarded as the best badminton player of all time, suffered his first first-round defeat of 2019 in the Indonesia Masters opener on Wednesday, losing to his junior, Zhao Junpeng 17-21, 21-15, 9-21 in a 53-minute battle.
After losing the first set, 35-year-old two-time Olympic champion upped his tempo in the second to force a decider by claiming the second set 21-15.
In the third-set, Lin Dan did not appear to have the stamina left to hang with Zhao as he waved the white flag quickly by going down 9-21.
Lin who currently ranked World No. 13 and was determined to go for a third Olympic title at Tokyo 2020, had experienced ninth first-round exits in 19 tournaments last year. He faced stiff competition from two of his teammates in qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic, including World No. 2 Shi Yuqi, and World No. 5 Chen Long.
Zhao Junpeng will play No. 7 seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia on Thursday.
Meanwhile, after last week’s shock first-round defeat, World No. 1 Kento Momota of Japan registered a 22-20, 21-11 win against Jan Jorgensen of Denmark at the Istora Senayan stadium on Wednesday. The Japanese player will take on another Danish player, Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus in the second round.
Malaysia’s unseeded Lee Zii Jia became the only Malaysian men’s singles player left at the tournament, as he pulled off an upset to stun World No. 7 Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan 21-13, 21-13. Lee will battle Sitthikom Thammasin of Thailand for a place in the quarter-finals.
Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi of Malaysian were able to storm into the men’s doubles second round, as their fellow countrymen – Rio Olympic men’s doubles silver medalists Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong were sent packing by No. 3 seeds Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda of Japan and Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik were knocked out by No. 8 seeds Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia in the first round respectively.
Ong/Teo will face a tough test in the second round as they are scheduled to meet World No. 2 Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen of China in the second round.
“We want to stay calm, we are going to discuss with our coaches about our game plan against the Chinese pair,” said Teo.
“There is nothing we need to worry about. We’ll play like we have nothing to lose,” added Teo.