Anders Antonsen wasn’t betraying much emotion on his loss, but he admitted it would begin to grate on him. The third seed had just fallen in the first round, 21-15 21-19, to home hope Kenta Nishimoto in the biggest upset on the opening day of the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2022.
The closing stages were dramatic, as Antonsen, down five match points, saved four, even as Nishimoto desperately tried to stall his momentum with fervent appeals to the umpire to redo his shoelaces.
Nishimoto smiled about his tactics. “The umpire didn’t allow me a break but I got some time just by negotiating with him.”
The win was finally his on the fifth match point, and the Japanese let his pent-up emotions erupt.
“I know Antonsen was coming back from injury, so I knew I had the advantage. It was important to win the first game. When it got close in the second, the support from the fans helped, and maybe that caused Antonsen to make the error on the last point.”
Antonsen, runner-up in 2019 and bronze medallist last year, was matter-of-fact about his early exit. A pulled abdominal muscle in May had taken him two months to recover, and he said the rustiness from the time off court had told on his game.
“Of course I’m disappointed and it’s going to be more and more annoying in the upcoming hours,” the Dane said. “I know that. Especially in the next few days when I see the other players step on court, then I tend to get a bit jealous. But I’m not that disappointed because I knew what to expect.
“I didn’t really have many expectations at all for this tournament. First of all I’m happy to be on court, it felt nice to be competing again; I’ve been missing it a lot. But obviously I’m a bit disappointed that I did not get the match into three games. I felt superior on the physical side… it’s mixed feelings right now.”
Antonsen, otherwise known for his steady play, made a succession of mistakes from 15-all in the second to give Nishimoto what would prove to be a winning lead.
“I tried to stay focussed but I did not succeed. Some poor mistakes, and some not very-well executed shots, and suddenly I was down 15-20. Not the best quality in my strokes and some poor decisions. But this comes with time on court. I just lack match practice and that match feeling.”
Despite the loss, the Dane was willing to look on the bright side.
“Now I’m back, it feels good. There’s a long way to go. Hopefully it’s going up from here. Now it’s back to training.”
🚨 UPSET ALERT 🚨
Hometown hero Kenta Nishimoto 🇯🇵 knocks out No.3️⃣ seed Anders Antonsen 🇩🇰.
Follow live action: https://t.co/TjoFnUmqf9#BWFWorldChampionships #Tokyo2022 pic.twitter.com/Ess48jlLcY
— BWF (@bwfmedia) August 22, 2022