COPENHAGEN – Top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia strolled into the quarter-finals of the men’s singles at the badminton world championships on Thursday as women’s title-holder Ratchanok Intanon suffered a shock loss.
Lee, bidding for an elusive maiden world title after consecutive runner-up finishes, faced little resistance from third-round opponent Scott Evans of Ireland as he raced to a 21-11, 21-12 win.
“I just focussed on myself, taking things easy to prepare for tomorrow (Friday),” said the world number one, who will encounter Chinese sixth seed Wang Zhengming, a 21-15, 21-18 winner over Hong Kong’s Wei Nan, with a place in the last four at stake.
“Tomorrow will be tough. (Wang) has played very well so far, he’s an accomplished player but I will focus on myself.
“I’m still not 100 percent but I hope tomorrow will be better,” added Lee, referring to a persistent groin injury that sidelined him for two months prior to this tournament.
China’s Chen Long, seeded second, progressed with a straightforward 21-12, 21-10 victory over India’s K. Srikanth and will meet South Korean seventh seed Son Wan-ho, who knocked off Danish number two Hans-Kristian Vittinghus 21-19, 21-12, in the last eight.
Denmark’s 14th seed Viktor Axelsen moved through after beating Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam 21-16, 21-17 with Dutchman Eric Pang also reaching the quarters.
The host country’s main hope Jan O Jorgensen faces unseeded Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan later with fifth seed Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia taking on Hong Kong’s veteran ninth seed Hu Yun.
There was a huge surprise in the women’s draw as defending champion Intanon crashed out in the third round after the 19-year-old succumbed to Japanese 16th seed Minatsu Mitani 8-21, 21-12, 21-18.
“She was quicker and faster in the second game. She made me nervous by defending my smashes so well. I was getting tired after long rallies,” said Intanon, who explained that she had spent five days in hospital prior to the tournament with a temperature that peaked at 39.5 degrees Celsius (103.1 degrees Fahrenheit).
“I couldn’t play at 100 percent just four days after leaving hospital. I was only around 50 percent,” said the 2013 champion.
Mitani’s reward is a quarter-final against Korean fifth seed Sung Ji-hyun, a 21-10, 21-16 winner over Indonesia’s Lindaweni Fanetri.
“After the second game I tried to simply play to my strengths, be patient and move around the court,” said Mitani.
“I didn’t think about strategy I just tried to play my best.”
Earlier world number one Li Xuerui of China blasted away 12th-seeded compatriot Han Li 21-9, 21-17 to march into the last eight before calling out her upcoming opponent, India’s Saina Nehwal.
On Wednesday Saina called for the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to reduce the number of entrants per country at international tournaments to curb China’s dominance in the sport.
Top-ranked Li, one of four Chinese representatives in the women’s draw, responded by saying: “Let her beat me first…she still has to face (Chinese players) whether there’s two or three of us.
“Even if an opponent isn’t in the Chinese team of course she can still win. If she’s not strong enough then that’s her own problem.”
Saina, bronze medalist at the London Olympics, overcame a patchy start to claw her way past Japanese 13th seed Sayaka Takahashi 14-21, 21-18, 21-12.
Chinese second seed Wang Shixian also advanced after thrashing Vietnam’s Vu Thi Trang 21-12, 21-7 while Taiwanese eighth seed Tai Tzu-ying ended the run of Canada’s Commonwealth champion Michelle Li with a 21-16, 21-11 win.
India’s P.V. Sindhu, the 2013 bronze medallist, was involved in an enthralling contest as the 11th seed fended off three match points before coming through 19-21, 22-20, 25-23 aging South Korean sixth seed Bae Yeon-ju. — Agence France-Presse