Olympic badminton: Chinese off to a good start

London: The first day of badminton competition at the Olympics saw little surprise as Chinese players enjoyed comfortable starts at the Wembley Arena.

Fledgling shuttler Li Xuerui beat Claudia Rivero from Peru, without too much difficulty, Xinhua reports. The 21-5, 21-6 result greatly boosted the morale of the 21-year-old Olympic debutant.

"I did better than I thought," said the baby-faced girl from southwest China. "I am not familiar with the opponent, so at the beginning I lapsed a bit."

Li garnered world reputation only this year, upsetting her top-ranked compatriot Wang Yihan to win the All England Championship in March.

On a four-tournament winning streak, she edged away Asian Games gold medallist Wang Shixian to book an Olympic ticket, which made quite a stir in China.

Grouped with Rivero and Carolina Marin from Spain, Li needs yet another good performance to march into the pre-quarterfinals.

Another competition that attracted more attention was between men`s doubles World Champions Cai Yun/Fu Haifeng and Australians Ross Smith and Glenn Warfe.

The veteran Chinese pair, ranked World No. 1, outplayed Smith and Warfe in the first game for 21-11, 21-17.

Talking about the unexpected difficulty they faced during the match, Fu Haifeng said: "In the second game, they seemed more relaxed. Their way of serving was strange to us."

Living far from the Olympic village, Fu said they could hardly feel the Olympic atmosphere. "As a result, we are not totally dedicated in the performance and hopefully after this contest, we can be more prepared."

In other contests, Chinese Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang beat Canadian Alex Bruce and Michele Li in the women`s doubles.

Zhao Yunlei, paired with Tian Qing and Zhang Nan in women`s and mixed doubles, breezed through both competitions.

IANS

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