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China opens Thomas Cup campaign with 5-0 victory against plucky France

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-05-10 10:47
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BANGKOK - China's men's badminton team overcame an spirited challenge from France to claim a 5-0 victory in its first group match of the Thomas Cup here on Monday.

China made it to the Thomas Cup final in 2021, but some big names like Olympic Champion Chen Long as well as Shi Yuqi are missing from the line-ups this time, while the doubles are still in a time of transition following the Tokyo Olympics.

In the opening singles match, world No 25 Lu Guangzu defeated Christo Popov in a grueling battle that lasted almost two hours.

Lu had to save three set points to take the first set 25-23. In the second set, Lu held off three consecutive set points before losing 26-24.

The match seemed to be slipping away from Lu when he was trailing and had to call for medical assistance after a failed save, but he managed to recover and take the set 21-15 while his opponent was held back by cramping.

"It's a pretty tough match, as this is the first match of the Thomas Cup and my first time playing as the first singles," said Lu. "But I managed to stay focused throughout the match and more importantly to be able to hang on when I was trailing."

In the following matches, singles Zhao Junpeng, Li Shifeng and doubles pair He Jiting and Zhou Haodong all defeated their French opponents respectively, hence nailing the victory for China.

In the last doubles match, Christo Popov returned with his older brother Toma Junior Popov to take the first set against the Chinese pair Liu Yuchen/Ou Xuanyi. But Liu and Ou came back from behind to win the next two sets 21-16, 21-16 and put the final score 5-0.

In the other group match, men's singles world No 1 Viktor Axelsen led Denmark to a 5-0 victory against Algeria.

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