Son shines eventually in badminton world championships opener

Glasgow (AFP) –


Top seed Son Wan Ho didn't have it easy against Finland's Kalle Koljonen in his first round of the men's singles at the World Championships in Glasgow on Monday.

The 29-year-old trailed in the early stages of the first game -- 3-5 and 5-7 -- before eventually getting in front 9-8. He took it 21-14.

The second was also a tester. It got to 16-all before the South Korean broke through to win 21-14, 21-16 in 44 minutes.

"It was my first match and I know all the other players are keen to beat me," said 29-year-old Son, who led South Korea to victory at this year's Sudirman Cup in Jakarta.

"I was also needing a chance to get used to the venue. But now I am feeling good.

"This is a very important competition for me. It would be a dream to become world champion. But I need to work very hard over the next week."

Koljonen, ranked 72 in the world, was pleased with his effort on his first visit to Scotland.

He also had a lot of support for every time he won a point flags were waved and a huge banner was raised that said in Finnish "Stay strong Kalle".

"I enjoyed the match and played well," he said.

"I tried to push him as much as possible."

- 'Bit of a blur' -

Chinese legend Lin Dan had a much easier passage as he began his quest for a sixth world title.

He was up against the Scottish No.1 Kieran Merrilees, and won 21-15, 21-10.

Lin, who will turn 34 in October, was never seriously troubled, but paid the local man a compliment.

"He was a strong opponent, and played very well," he said.

"But I'll have to play much better later in the week."

Merrilees admitted it was an honour to share a court with his childhood hero. But he just wished it had been later in the championships.

"It was such a hard match," admitted the 27-year-old.

"Before I went on court I was so nervous and my legs felt like jelly. I had trained so hard for these championships but when I saw the draw my head went down.

"To be honest, the match is all a bit of a blur. But I am sure I will learn from it. I played the name, and that was no use."

On a comeback from a heel injury, Switzerland's Sabrina Jacquet was involved in one of the longest matches of the first round, finally overcoming Ukrainian Natalya Votysekh 21-14, 18-21, 21-10.

Following a four-month lay-off, she was delighted.

"I am really happy," she said. "I have been injured and it was my first official match for four months.

"I didn't really know where I was standing as practice had not been going so well.

"I was a bit unsure whether I was going to be able to play here, so I am going to enjoy it. This win is a bonus."