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Li Xuerui out to make amends at badminton worlds

August 26, 2014

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Olympic badminton champion Li Xuerui beat Denmark’s Kristina Gavnholt at the world championships on Tuesday, a victory that marked the start of her campaign to make amends for a traumatic defeat in last year’s final.

The top-seeded Chinese player came through 21-13, 21-17 to reach the second round.

Though winning the women’s title this week will be important for her gold medal hopes at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Li also wants to turn the page on the defeat in 2013 before her home crowd at the worlds in Guangzhou.

“I had to overcome that mentally but I think I have done that. Winning the London Olympics happened so early and quickly for me, and to do well again now I have to go step by step,” the 23-year-old Li said.

Her next opponent is compatriot Han Li, seeded 12th.

Li’s opponent in last year’s final, Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, struggled in the opening stages of a 21-18, 21-10 win over Spain’s Beatriz Corrales.

Intanon, seeded fourth, began fluently before her three-point lead dissolved into a 16-17 deficit in the first game. Several steadily-played rallies were needed for her to reach safety.

The second game was more straightforward as she lined up a meeting with Minatsu Mitani, the 16th seeded Japanese player.

In the men’s competition, Tommy Sugiarto, the fifth-seeded Indonesian whose father Icuk won the 1983 world title in Copenhagen, pledged to try to emulate that achievement after beating Wong Zi Liang of Singapore 21-12, 21-14 in the first round.

Sugiarto should progress again when he plays Vladimir Malkov of Russia.

The match of the day saw Rajiv Ouseph, the English national champion, save two match points and upset the seedings with an exhausting 17-21, 24-22, 21-16 win over Chong Wei Feng of Malaysia.

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