The Bulgarian pulled off a narrow win over Germany’s Karin Schnaase and broke down as she remembered her grandfather, who died two months ago.
Zetchiri, ranked No.34, burst into tears after beating the No.25 Schaase 21-18 11-21 21-18, recovering from a 15-17 deficit in the third game to make the second round.
“I thought of him as soon as I won because we had a very strong connection. He was always supporting me in my sport. I knew he is supporting me from somewhere up there. He’s always crossing my mind, because of his death. He loved sport, and he loved the fact that I play sport. He was always cutting out the newspapers with my articles in them. I wanted to dedicate the win to him as soon as I won it.”
Asked if his death had affected her preparations for the event, Zetchiri said:
“You can never get over something like this. It’s always going to be like missing something, but I’m trying to focus on what I have to do, rather than what is out of my hands. Try to do things the best I can.”
“The World Championships is always an event at which you want to perform your best, and be focussed the best way you can. I really want to play well here in front of these amazing people who have such love for the sport. That motivates me.
Zetchiri next plays fellow left-hander and No.10 seed Bae Yeon Ju of Korea. Other winners in the session included Turkey’s Ozge Bayrak (above), a 25-23 21-13 victor over Malaysia’s Lyddia Cheah; USA’s Iris Wang, who surprised England’s Fontaine Mica Chapman 21-12 21-19; Switzerland’s Sabrina Jacquet and Zetchiri’s compatriot Petya Nedelcheva, who fought off Canada’s Rachel Honderich 13-21 22-20 21-13.
The session saw an upset in Men’s Singles, with Malaysia’s Zulfadli Zulkiffli stunning No.6 seed Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei). After the Malaysian blitzed Chen in the first game, the second game was tighter. Zulkiffli pushed ahead late in the game, but Chou caught up and even had match point. The Malaysian levelled at 20-all and then audaciously flick-served high, catching his opponent by surprise.
“On paper Chou Tien Chen is the better player, but I didn’t think too much about it and focussed on my game,” said Zulkiffli.
“The pressure was not on me, maybe that’s why I played well. I could sense that Chou was nervous in the first game, so I kept on attacking. In the second, my coach told me to play a bit more at the net, and that worked.”
Poland’s Adrian Dziolko outlasted Russia’s Vladimir Malkov 20-22 22-20 21-16, while Uganda’s Edwin Ekiring proved too good for Ukraine’s Dmytro Zavadsky, 21-18 21-17.
In Mixed Doubles, France’s Ronan Labar/Emilie Lefel (above) edged past Malaysia’s Tan Chee Tean/Shevon Jemie Lai 21-18 22-20, while Russia’s Rodion Kargaev/Ekaterina Bolotova outplayed Peru’s Mario Cuba/Katherine Winder 21-11 19-21 21-10.