Group 1A: Hong Kong foil Chinese plot
Defending champions China came close to being troubled by Hong Kong in the opening men's doubles match featuring Rio Olympic gold medallists Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan.
They've only spent one hour and nine minutes or two matches together this year so it was evident that the famous Chinese pair were keeping their strategy simple, seldom deviating from Fu looking after the rear court. The majority of the time was spent finding back the sweet timing that brought them gold medals at Rio.
The Hong Kong men wasted a game trying to find a good length on their defence. Once mixed doubles specialist Reginald Lee Chun Hei settled after swapping sides the match developed on more equal footing. However, the second game's extended deuce ended when Fu / Zhang took advantage of the least experienced Law Cheuk Him by hitting the final shuttles in his direction to win it, 21-15, 26-24.
Things were delightfully going all China's way as 4-0 lead in the tie as world #1 mixed pair Chen Qingchen / Zheng Siwei opened their account by giving their opponents the worst game score of the afternoon 21-10. Astonishingly, the undeterred Tse Ying Suet / Tang Chun Man of Hong Kong managed to turn the tables with their rare dual left-handers proposition, 21-16, 21-18.
Tse/Tang employed a succession of cross court drives of less than full blooded power whenever Chen/Zheng were in perfect tandem, such untouchable winners had the added benefit of not needing to summon continual courage to receive the brunt of Zheng's terrifying smashes which made the difference in the opener.
Groups 2 & 3: Canada's close call
Group 2A's tussle between Canada and Scotland was a guessing game up until a weak women's doubles side handed the tie over to the land of maple trees.
Kieran Merrilees paid tribute to the talents of his younger opponent Jason Anthony Ho-Shue after securing their encounter, 21-18, 21-12. “It's a nice stadium although there is a little bit of wind. This is where my experience could have helped me.”
Ho-Shue began to look lost for ideas as Merrilees confidently plugged every gap. Their men's singles match was characterised by long flat rallies in stark contrast to the aerial antics being fought out on the adjacent court by Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Minh and New Zealand's Dylan Soedjasa.
The titanic match up of former top 20 women's singles players Michelle Li and Kirsty Gilmour lived up to expectations by reaching 17-17 in the rubber game. This rematch of the 2014 Commonwealth Games final again went to the Canadian care of Gilmour sending a flat clear conveniently into the hitting zone of her taller adversary and the late deadlock was broken.
Like Hong Kong, Guam were able to salvage one match in the afternoon. Grace Cai / Sarah Cai defeated Dgenyva Matauli / Cecelia Moussy 21-18, 22-20. Elsewhere the New Caledonian side looked to have the edge because of more match and domestic practice.