Yang and Christophersen are reckoned to be among those to watch from the post-2000 generation, and they had their moments — Yang against Lee Zii Jia (Thomas Cup Group D), and Christophersen against He Bing Jiao (Uber Cup Group D). Both Lee Zii Jia and He Bing Jiao had to step up a gear to avert upsets and lead Malaysia and China to comfortable wins over Canada and Denmark respectively.
Lee was unsettled by Yang’s sharpness and held-back shots; the Canadian had an easy grace and choice of shots that helped him control the exchanges through most of the opening game. With Lee given few opportunities to unleash his attacking game, the Malaysian had to scramble, and he was often down on all fours as he fought to keep the rallies going, with his rival sending the shuttle to all corners. There were a couple of breathtaking net shots, but once Lee edged Yang in the opening game, the going got easier, for Lee was playing from the faster end where his attack had more bite.
Lee acknowledged that he’d had a hard day, particularly with all the fan expectations around him taking on a rapidly-improving opponent.
“The main thing was about trying to handle the pressure because Brian has upset quite a few top players and everyone was looking at whether he would upset me today. I had to be stronger than him. I just tried to play more rallies, especially in the second game where he made a lot of mistakes in the rallies.
“He’s quite an allround player. I’m looking forward to seeing how he will perform in future.”
Despite the entertaining show, Yang was hard on himself.
“Overall, I wasn’t satisfied with how I played. I was able to see the difference between him and me and that’s what’s important.
“In the second game I was playing against the drift so my shots were slower and he was cruising on the defence and I wasn’t able to hit through him, and that pushed me to become impatient and hit the lines and I kept missing the lines.”
On an adjacent court, Line Christophersen had raised expectations among home fans of an upset with her strong start against He Bing Jiao, using her tall, strong frame to land heavy blows.
“I was leading but she was stubborn and fought hard,” said He Bing Jiao.
The Chinese had sufficient experience to work her way out of the setback, taking the match in three games.
“She’s tall and strong and a junior European champion, anyone who can win that title can go far,” said the world No.9.
As for Christophersen, the 21-year-old sought to take positives from her show.
“Of course I’m disappointed, I think it was a good match. I’m happy with the first game, but disappointed at the end that I made too many mistakes. I just think I had to play the rallies to the end instead of trying to end it with the first chance I got.”
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