Xuerui believes she has what it takes to qualify for Tokyo 2020

  • Badminton
  • Wednesday, 03 Apr 2019

WHEN the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

China’s singles shuttler Li Xuerui (pic) believes she is still on the right track to qualify for her third Olympics in Tokyo next year despite enduring a difficult start to the season.

The former world No. 1 said she is still not in her best form despite a successful comeback from a major injury suffered at the Rio Olympics that sidelined her for nearly two years in 2016.

Xuerui, the 2012 London Olympic champion, however made a triumphant return to capture the lower-tier China Masters in April last year before adding the US Open, Canada Open and Korean Masters to her collection.

But the world No. 19 could not replicate the same kind of form in top-level competitions this year.

“I don’t think there’s cause for concern. When you’re out injured for so long, it definitely takes time to regain your former form,” said Xuerui, after opening her campaign with a convincing 21-6, 21-18 win over compatriot Cai Yanyan.

“But I’m working extremely hard to try and close the gap between myself and the top players.

“The most important thing for me is to stay healthy and fit.

“When I decided to make a comeback, it was because of the Tokyo Games. That’s my mission.”

In her absence, several players have rose to the top including current world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan, Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi and India’s P.V. Sindhu.

But Xuerui also faces stiff competition from her compatriots to qualify for the Olympics.

At No. 19, Xuerui is ranked sixth behind Chen Yufei (No. 2), He Bingjiao (No. 7), Han Yue (No. 13), Gao Fangjie (No. 16) and Yanyan (No. 17).

She must find her way to sneak into the top eight of the world rankings and the top two among her compatriots if she is to secure her berth.

Xuerui also has unfinished business at the Olympics because it was in Rio that she suffered the injury to her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and lateral meniscus.

It caused her to lose the semi-final match to eventual gold medallist, Spain’s Carolina Marin. The injury also forced her to withdraw from the bronze medal match against Nozomi Okuhara of Japan.

This week, Xuerui will be looking to better her All-England quarter-final run.

Xuerui had won the Malaysia Open once in 2014 and finished runner-up the following year.

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