The world's top four badminton players, including China's Olympic champion Chen Yufei, world No.1 An Se-young of South Korea, Chinese Taipei icon Tai Tzu-ying and Japanese top player Akane Yamaguchi, showed up at the Asiad.
HANGZHOU, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- The 'Big 4' of women's badminton all showed up on Friday at the Hangzhou Asian Games, as they began their team event matches at the same time, attracting almost all the attention.
Home favorite and Olympic champion Chen Yufei picked up the first point for China with a straight-set win over Indonesia's Gregoria Mariska Tunjung on Court 1.
World No.1 An Se-young of South Korea beat Fathimath Nabaaha Abdul Razzaq of the Maldives in a lopsided 21-1, 21-5 victory on Court 3 in under 20 minutes.
On Court 2, Chinese Taipei's icon Tai Tzu-ying faced Japan's top player Akane Yamaguchi in one of the most keenly followed matches, which ended in Tai's favor after her opponent's injury retirement, before Yamaguchi's teammates won three consecutive matches to eliminate Chinese Taipei.
Chen, An, Tai and Yamaguchi are the top stars in women's badminton, regardless of power or impact, while in the men's singles, Viktor Axelsen of Denmark and other masters form the "only superpower and multi-great power" pattern.
The 'Big 4' unsurprisingly swept the last four at the China Open earlier this month, and are deemed the favorites for the singles gold medal at the Asian Games.
An became South Korea's first world champion in August and is widely regarded as the top shuttler after winning nine titles in 12 tournaments this season.
The youngster's blazing form contrasts with her humble mindset, as the 21-year-old appears to have the kind of character only veterans possess.
"They all have more experience than me, and it was not easy every time I play against them," An told Xinhua during the China Open.
"Sometimes I wonder if I can match them. They are all very good players," she said.
In the meantime, An's emergence could not overshadow the other three superstars, as each of the "Big 4" has her own technical characteristics.
"Chen's attack is very strong, Tai's technique is versatile, and when facing Yamaguchi, I don't know to which direction she will hit the ball every time; she is a player with great speed and control," An said.
Each of these four players, as An pointed out, has her own "killer punch".
Two-time world champion Yamaguchi was nicknamed "Little Motor" by Chinese fans, for her excellent speed and pace. But her journey at the Asian Games remains uncertain due to injury.
Chen, the leader of China's squad, is technically flexible and has developed a more solid mentality in the last two years, while Tai has been hailed for her tactical adaptability.
Interestingly, the four's vastly diverse personalities have frequently been a talking topic, as Chen stated, "An is enthusiastic and confident, Tai is happy and spontaneous, and Yamaguchi and I are calm on the outside and carry deep responsibility on the inside."
Their personal relationship is unaffected by the rivalry on court as they always exchange gifts before matches and interact on social media.