It was the Taiwanese’s first match since she won the All England Open title nine months ago as badminton restarted at Bangkok’s Muang Thong Thani.
The sport had been mainly sidelined since the 2020 All England Open in March although there were a few small events late last year.
“I feel so happy to play my first match here. It is strange to play without any crowds,” said Tai.
“I made too many unforced errors in the first match. I will continue to work on my physical fitness.”
World No.129 Benyapa, who replaced injured compatriot Nitchaon Jindapol, said she got a precious experience.
“I feel very happy because it is rare for me to compete in such a big tournament and play against a top player,” said the 18-year-old Thai.
India’s Pusarla V Sindhu became the first big-name casualty when she was eliminated in the first round by Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt.
Blichfeldt sealed her first victory over the sixth seed in four matches, sending the 2016 Olympic runner-up crashing with a 16-21, 26-24, 21-13 result.
“This win means a lot to me. I have been struggling with my body for the past year, but now I am satisfied that I am back on track,” said the Dane.
“I feel very proud of myself and very happy that my plan is slowly working.”
Sindhu said: “I can say that it was not my day because I played really well in the first game. In the second game, I should have finished it but there were some unforced errors on my side. In the third game, I gave Mia a huge lead, some points here and there, but it was not my day today basically.”
Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan breezed past Sabrina Jaquet of Switzerland 21-16, 21-17.
In the men’s singles, fourth seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark beat Thailand’s Sitthikom Thammasin 21-12, 21-6.
“At the start I felt a little bit shaky. That’s of course okay after such a long time not competing. I felt good on court, my body was moving fine and I actually got to enjoy it too, which is not always easy when you want to win. I was again reminded why I do what I do for a living and that’s because I enjoy being out here competing,” Axelsen said.
Fifth seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia defeated South Korea’s Heo Kwang-Hee 21-15, 11-21, 21-16.
Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen cruised past India’s Sai Praneeth 21-16, 21-10.
In the mixed doubles, top seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand came from behind to see off Malaysia’s Hoo Pang Ron and Cheah Yee See 18-21, 21-16, 21-15.
“We feel good but still not full of confidence. We have to play much better in the next match. We are feeling good after not playing tournaments for 10 months,” Sapsiree said.
Virus-positive shuttlers cleared to play
Meanwhile, Indian badminton star Saina Nehwal has been cleared to compete, despite testing positive for COVID-19.
Former world No.1 Nehwal was one of four players who tested positive before the start of the six-day event at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani.
The other three are all men: Indian international HS Prannoy, Jones Ralfy Jansen of Germany and Adham Hatem Elgamal from Egypt.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) and Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) announced last night that after further tests, Nehwal, Prannoy and Jansen had been cleared to play in the first round today but Elgamal had been withdrawn.
Nehwal’s husband Kashyap Parupalli, who is in the men’s draw, has been asked to self-quarantine due to the married couple sharing a room.
“Nehwal, Prannoy and Jansen tested positive on the PCR [swab] test and their antibodies test was also positive,” said a BWF/BAT statement.
“A positive antibodies test means a person has been infected with the virus at some point in the past. It does not mean they are currently infected. The trio all contracted COVID-19 in late 2020. The [organising] committee was satisfied that they are not infected and do not pose a danger to the tournament.”