Wednesday, 21 May 2014 | MYT 5:56 PM
China top Group D as France also progress
Lin Dan had to fight from a game down before beating Taiwan's Lin Yu-hsien. - AFP
NEW DELHI: China had a couple of hiccups against Taiwan before booking their spot in the last eight while France rejoiced after making badminton history by joining the defending champions from Group D in the Thomas Cup Finals at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium.
The preliminary action in Group D ended with China taking top spot after brushing aside Taiwan 5-0. They had defeated Russia and France by similar margins.
But the contest on Tuesday evening was much closer than the scoreline suggested.
Their first doubles pair of Chai Biao-Hong Wei were taken to three games by Tsai Chia-shin-Lee Sheng-mu before winning 21-19, 14-21, 21-17.
Chen Long needed to draw on his experience earlier to beat Chou Tien-chen 21-14, 21-19 before Du Pengyu got the winning point with a 21-11, 21-13 win over Hsu Jen-hao.
Eyebrows were also raised as reigning Olympic and world champion Lin Dan had to fight his way back from a game down in the third singles.
Lin Dan lost the first game 19-21 before turning on the style to beat Lin Yu-hsien 21-13, 21-14 in exactly an hour.
It is rare to see Lin Dan dropping a game at this stage of the competition but he just shrugged it off.
Lin Dan did not play when China played Russia on Monday. Tian Houwei was fielded in third singles instead but Lin Dan is expected to return for the knockout stage starting from Thursday.
Lin Dan, who returned to action after an eight-month break to win the China Masters and Badminton Asia Championships (BAC) last month, is ready to feature as China’s strongest weapon in the third singles slot.
“I couldn’t play my best in the first game. But it was a good test for me as there will be tougher opponents coming up. I just want to focus on this week and play well,” said Lin Dan.
France showed that they are no longer badminton minnows after overcoming Russia 3-2 to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.
France had turned the tables on Taiwan by a similar margin on Monday.
France suffered a setback earlier when Brice Leverdez, hero of their upset win over Taiwan, fell 11-21, 21-17, 8-21 to Vladimir Ivanov in the opening singles .
However, Lucas Corvee levelled the score by getting the better of Vladimir Malkov 21-17, 21-14.
Baptiste Careme-Bastian Kersaudy then recovered from a game down to beat Anatoliy Yartsev-Rodion Kargaev 15-21, 21-15, 21-16.
Thomas Rouxel, who was involved in a physically exhausting hour-long match against Taiwan on Monday, showed no sign of fatigue as he took the court against Anton Ivanov.
Rouxel went on the attack right from the word go to pulverise Anton 21-9, 21-14 and put France in the quarter-finals.