After the fear of possible terrorist threats and the pullout of the English team, the World Championship needed a sensational start to bring the focus back on badminton.
The schedule was changed after England’s pullout and some of the big names opened the proceedings. The move turned out to be a masterstroke as the battle-hardened Dicky Palyama of the Netherlands began by packing off Chinese challenger Bao Chunlai 21-18, 21-14 in just 35 minutes.
The world number 18 exploited the 11th seed Bao’s weak knee, which almost kept him out of the tournament, to set up a second round clash against Henri Hurskainen of Sweden.
The day ended with some good news for the hosts as 15th seed Chetan Anand got past past Ji Hoon Hong of Korea 21-8, 21-16 to set up a second round clash against Stilian Makarski of Bulgeria.
The 28-year-old has not been in great form in the run up to the championship but was focussed from the start. The first game ended in no time after the Indian raced from 4-4 to 18-5. The second was a lot closer with Chetan making more unforced errors while playing against the wind but adapted to ensure the match did not go into the decider.
“The two week training at the Prakash Padukone Academy has done a world of good to my confidence and that showed in the game,” Chetan said later.
In between Chetan’s facile win and Palyama’s upset victory, top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, defending champion Lin Dan of China and third seed Peter Gade of Denmark steamrolled their opponents to book second round berths.
In women’s singles, most of the title contenders had a first round bye.
The 31-year-old Palyama, last year’s Russian Grand Prix champion, played a simple but effective strategy of keeping the shuttle in play and shutting out unforced errors.
The ploy worked as Bao, the Asian champion, had to work harder on winning points and this put additional pressure on his left knee.
Palyama came under pressure in the second game when he was leading 14-10 but committed a couple of unforced errors to allow Bao to crawl back at 14-14. But he recovered well to win the next seven points in a row.
Other Indians disappoint
The Indian contingent had a bad day in office as all the three players in action failed to advance to the next round.
World number 32 Aditi Mutatkar went down to 11th seed Juliane Schenk of Germany 21-8, 21-12 and later admitted she could not match the pace of her opponent.
Also shown the door were New Zealand Grand Prix champions Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas and the mixed doubles pair of Aparna Balan and Arun Vishnu.
Rupesh-Sanave lost to the Japanese pair of Kenichi Hayakawa and Kenta Kazuno 21-13, 23-21 while Balan-Vishnu went down to another Japanese pair of Noriyasu Hirata and Shizuka Matsuo 21-14, 22-20.