Struggling with injuries, Antonsen beat France’s Toma Junior Popov 18-21, 21-19, 21-13. Earlier, Lee had to fight hard for a 20-22, 21-19, 21-12 win against Shesar Hiren Rustavito of Indonesia.
World No. 1 Axelsen was the favorite to win the first round match. He has won 10 of the 14 tournaments he has played in the past 12 months, including last week’s Malaysia Open. For every point in the match, Victor waited for Srikanth to make mistakes. However, Srikanth was not ready to give up without a fight and when he took a 14-5 lead in the second game. At that point it seemed that the Indian might win his first game against the Danish in the 14th attempt. But Axelsen remained unfazed by the score line and stuck to his game plan. He scored on a long rally to make it 14–8, and then scored seven points in a row to get back in the game.
Earlier, the day’s other marquee clash between former world champions Loh and Naroka, however, failed to live up to expectations as the Japanese, who reached the final of the Malaysia Open last week, was clearly struggling with his stamina. He lost the match 18-21, 21-9, 21-7. Top seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, second seed An Se-young of South Korea and fourth seed Bingjiao of China won their respective matches without any problems in the women’s singles section.
In the men’s doubles, title favourites, Hendra Setiawan and Mohd Ahsan of Indonesia crashed out in the opening round. The fourth seeded pair saved two match points in the deciding game but could not avoid going down 21-14, 18-21, 23-21 to China’s Wei Keng Liang and Chang Wang in less than an hour.
Meanwhile, Aakarshi Kashyap and Malvika Bansod, the other Indians in Action Dikhi, also lost against their respective higher-ranked opponents. Kashyap went down 15-21 12-21 to former champion Beiwen Zhang of USA while Malvika Bansod lost 17-21 12-21 to Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan.
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