(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
Two withdrawals on the first day of the World Tour Finals
Date: 12/1/2021 3:45 PM
Published by : Sara Gonzalez Martinez (BEC)
The men’s singles Group A has been left with only two players still competing after the other half withdrew early on in their matches on the opening day of the World Tour Finals.

The HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2021 have kicked off just today. Players are fighting for one last time in Bali this month in what will be the last push before heading to Huelva for the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2021.

The packed schedule of the last months has taken its toll on some of the players. Two of them from the same group, Rasmus Gemke and Kento Momota, have had to withdraw from their matches due to injury on the opening day of the finale, but all other players are still standing strong and ready to get on the event’s podium.

A hard blow for a finale debutant 
Group A in the men’s singles category already has its top players after a dramatic turn of events. The first from the group to step on court were compatriots Viktor Axelsen and Rasmus Gemke. Sadly, those looking to enjoy an all-Danish clash could not do so due to Gemke retiring less than five minutes into the match.

- I am really sad right now. It is a dream to qualify for this and it is my first time here, so I was really looking forward to it. Since the semifinal last Saturday, I have been struggling a lot with my knee. I did everything to get ready for this with my physio and I did my recovery training, but my knee still hurts a lot, Gemke explained.

This gets Axelsen closer to the podium in what has been an incredibly good year for him. He seemed to have found a small bump on his way to the closing of the year, retiring from the French Open and losing on his second match at the Indonesia Masters. 

The fight is over in the men’s singles Group A
Still, the world number one seems to be going strong. Axelsen has recently been crowned as the Indonesia Open 2021 champion and will be trying to snatch yet another crown by winning his next encounter, where he will be facing young talent Lakshya Sen.

- I feel fine. We have been here for some weeks now. You get used to the conditions, and I feel pretty confident here.

- This is the World Tour Finals, and at an event like this you have to play well every single day. It will another tough match tomorrow, against Lakshya. I know him, we have been training a little bit together, so it is going to be a fun match. I very much look forward to it, Axelsen stated.

Similarly to Gemke, Kento Momota withdrew from his encounter against Lakshya Sen. The world number two is suffering again from back problems.

- I am disappointed. I just wanted to play my best at this tournament, but I could not do it. I retired because of my backpain. I also had my back pain in the French Open, and today it was getting worse. I will now prepare for the World Championships, Momota said.

The fight is still on at the men’s singles Group B, with Kidambi Srikanth winning his match against Toma Junior Popov and Lee Zii Jia defeating Kunlavut Vitidsarn.

Success for two European pairs on the first day
In one of the first matches to be played on the opening day, we saw a rematch of the European Championships 2021 women’s doubles final. Gabriela Stoeva/ Stefani Stoeva and Chloe Birch/ Lauren Smith met once again, and the English duo did not find their rhythm in their first match of the event.

- It is a good start and this puts less pressure on us. Winning our opening match is pretty good, it gives us positive thoughts but for sure we will not relax. We need to keep working and be even more focused for tomorrow, Stefani said.

- We knew they were going to come out fighting and we know that the next two pairs will do exactly the same. We need to assess how we respond to that, Birch added.

Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen have got off to a good start with a great win against Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/ Chirag Shetty.

- We feel amazing right now. We played at our best today and I think the result reflects that. We basically played a decent game today and I am super satisfied with that, Astrup said. 

The Danes will need to keep up the pace up in their clash against their next opponents, 2020 BWF World Tour Finals champions and 2020 Olympic gold medallists Lee Yang/ Wang Chi-Lin.
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