Wang Yihan of China returns a shot against P.V. Sindhu of India during their match at the 2013 Sudirman Cup world mixed team badminton championships in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. Photo: CFP
Defending champions China experienced a shaky start to their defense of the Sudirman Cup despite whipping India 5-0 in their opening Group A match in Malaysia on Sunday.
So distraught were the Chinese officials over their players' lackluster performances that they snubbed the official press conference after their tie.
The eight-time winners of the trophy, who are gunning for their fifth consecutive crown, took more than 3 hours to subdue their opponents to virtually guarantee themselves a place in the quarterfinals.
More worryingly for China was the form of world champion Wang Yihan, who was stretched to three games by upcoming Indian star P.V. Sindhu. Sindhu was playing in place of the injured Saina Nehwal.
Saina, who has moved up to No.2 in the world rankings, withdrew from the tournament as she has a hairline fracture to her toe.
After her victory, the lanky Wang said, "She (Sindhu) is a tough opponent.
"I should have won the first game but threw it away. She is young and hungry and took me by surprise and I couldn't cope. I found my rhythm in the second game and took control from then on."
China opened with Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei's victory over Tarun Kona/Ashwini Ponnappa in the mixed doubles event at 21-10, 21-13. The Chinese pair ranks third in the world while their opponents are 31st.
World No.2 Chen Long then beat Kashyap Parupalli 21-11, 21-9 in the men's singles to extend China's overall lead to 2-0.
"I haven't played any matches for three or four weeks after the Asian Championships. Though I started well today, I still got some pressure," said Chen. "After winning the first set, I felt released and the match became easier then."
In the men's doubles, Liu Xiaolong/Qiu Zihan suffered the test from Akshay Dewalkar/Pranaav Jerry Chopra. The Chinese pair came from behind to win the first set 25-23 and then sealed the win for China by winning the second set 21-18.
Wang, who was just awarded the Badminton World Federation female player of 2012 on Sunday, beat Sindhu 19-21, 21-16 and 21-14. Yu Yang/Wang Xiaoli took a quick victory over Ashwini Ponnappa/Pradnya Gadre in only 28 minutes with 21-18, 21-11.
The third team in Group A are former champions Indonesia, who play India on Monday. With only three teams in each of the four groups, the top two will qualify for Thursday's quarterfinals.