Lin Dan made it clear that Tokyo 2020 looms large in his plans, first to defend his title in Auckland, and then to reach as high a ranking as he can. “This is the first qualifying opportunity for the Olympics, so it is important to be at my best. I will try my best for the Tokyo Olympics, I must reach the highest level I can this year to play in Tokyo. I have very good memories from winning here last year and it was important to me that I return here and play well.”

Manota had his moments and enjoyed great encouragement from the crowd that included his parents, visiting from India and while beaten, he was proud of his efforts post-match.

“I was overwhelmed by the crowd, I didn’t expect that the crowd was on my side, I want to thank them so much for the support. But on the court, I was thinking I have to focus on the match and do my own stuff.”

Lin Dan (Credit Jonathon Stone, Badminton New Zealand)

Manota had a slightly less than ideal preparation, playing his doubles early this morning before heading back to work at North Harbour Badminton and then returning to the tournament venue.

“It is a bit crazy but it is almost usual for me now, I normally play in the morning, go to work and train in the afternoon again so it is pretty usual. But a tournament is different, there are so many things you have to prepare for the matches, but I think I did okay.

“That was such a good experience and good moment for my parents, my dad especially. I can tell by his face that the loved it.”