BEIJING, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Former Olympic badminton champion Li Xuerui returned to international competition at the BWF Tour's Lingshui China Masters on Wednesday after being sidelined for 600 days due to injury.
The former No.1 from China – a two-time World Championship runner-up – has been out of action since sustaining a serious injury at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The Lingshui China Masters 2018 is the lowest level of the BWF Tour. Li moved past her younger teammate Chen Nianzu comfortably.
However she admitted that she struggled on the court.
"I was so nervous. It's my first match after my comeback. Although I had some matches in our team, I was still unfamiliar with the atmosphere on the court," the 27-year-old said.
Li, failing to move past Carolina Marin of Spain in the semifinal of the Rio Olympics' badminton event, picked up an injury in the match and couldn't make the bronze medal match afterwards. Later examination showed that Li tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and also had injured herl l ateral meniscus.
After the Rio Olympics, Li wrote on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like social network, that fans didn't need to worry about her as she would recover to her best soon. However her recovery took much longer than everyone expected.
Last year at Chinese National Games' badminton event, Li returned but only played doubles as she was not yet fully recovered. This time at the Lingshui China Masters in Hainan, Li made several mistakes in judging whether the shuttle was out or not.
"I'm always looking forward to the competition, but my recovery process is relatively tough, because my injury always comes back. I hope to find my rhythm as soon as possible," Li said.
As the top Chinese shuttlers, Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian retired from international competition after the Rio Olympics and Li was sidelined due to injury, Chinese women's badminton singles no longer holds the overwhelming advantage they once did.
Chinese youngsters Chen Yufei and He Bingjiao only rank seventh and ninth in the world rankings. Li's comeback will hopefully give a huge boost to Chinese women's badminton.
"The current structure and situation of world women's singles is different. When facing top shuttlers from other teams, my younger teammates lack confidence and aggression, and always lose key points at key moments...I hope we can unite and fight together," said Li.