BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Women’s badminton world No.1 Tai Tzu-ying breezed into the quarter-finals of the Thailand Open on Thursday, sweeping aside South Korea’s Kim Ga-eun 21-16, 21-10 in less than half an hour.
The 26-year-old’s victory came as the Badminton World Federation (BWF) declared the tournament safe to continue following the latest round of Covid-19 testing
“It has been a while since the last tournament, and this is the same for everyone, so (these first few matches) are not easy,” admitted Tai after overcoming the 17th-ranked Kim.
“I felt better today and had less unforced errors.”
Tai is seeking back-to back titles 10 months apart after winning the All England Championship on her last tournament appearance in March before the coronavirus shutdown.
The Taiwanese player will next face Canada’s eighth seed Michelle Li for a place in the semi-finals.
World No. 10 Li fought back after dropping the first game against another South Korean, Sung Ji-hyun, before prevailing 15-21, 21-15, 21-14.
The Thailand Open is the first of three consecutive tournaments played in strict bio-secure conditions and behind closed doors in Bangkok, culminating in the World Tour Finals from 27 January.
Egyptian mixed doubles player Adham Hatem Elgamal was withdrawn on Monday and a German coach and French staff member are under hospital observation after testing positive at badminton’s restart tournament.
But the BWF Thursday cleared all other players to continue with Thailand’s badminton chief promising “to make this event a success.”