5-time champion Dan, rival Lee make it easily to 2nd round
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) Five-time champion Lin Dan of China and his Malaysian arch rival Lee Chong Wei eased their way to the second round of the badminton world championships following straight-sets victories on Tuesday.
The fifth-seeded Dan overpowered Sattawat Pongnairat of the United States 21-8, 21-11 while unseeded Lee outclassed Lithuanian Kestutis Navickas 21-9, 21-13.
Both Dan and Lee are expected to meet in the semifinals of the men's singles, with the final scheduled for Sunday.
The two-time Olympic medalist Dan hoped the return of Lee - following a doping ban, would increase the level of competition. Lee, then the world's top-ranked player, was suspended for eight months for doping after last year's world championships in Denmark where his runner-up result was disqualified.
He returned to play in the Sudirman Cup in May in Dongguan, China.
''Of course I am looking forward to meeting with Chong Wei in the semi-finals,'' said the 2008 and 2012 Olympic winner. ''I would love to play with Chong Wei again.''
Routes to the semifinals are not easy for both Dan and Lee, who are grouped with other seeded players in the next rounds. All were advancing easily on Tuesday to the second round.
Dan will face either second-seeded Jan O. Jorgensen of Denmark, ninth-seeded Son Wan Ho of South Korea or 14th-seed Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark who beat Kieran Merrilees of Scotland.
Lee, meanwhile, in a group with third-seeded Srikanth Kidambi of India, 8th-seed Wang Zhengming of China, 12rd-seeded Zwiebler of Germany or 13rd-seed Hu Yun of Hong Kong.
''Today I'm quite confident ... and hopefully I would be better tomorrow,'' said Lee, who realized his duel with Dan was long-awaited by many spectators.
''If advancing to the semifinals, maybe I will meet with Lin Dan,'' he said. ''I will try my best (but) my strategy is focusing on round by rounds.''
Also advancing were Kidambi who eliminated Michael Fariman of Australia 21-10, 21-13, Yun defeated Rosario Maddaloni of Italy 21-15, 21-13 and Vittinghus beat Kieran Merrilees of Scotland, 21-16, 21-15.
Jorgensen defeated Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand 21-9, 21-19, Zwiebler disposed of Osleni Guerrero of Cuba, 21-16, 21-13, Zhengming outclassed Henri Hurskainen of Sweden 21-13, 21-12 and Ho dismissed Ville Lang of Finland 21-13 21-14.
Israeli player Misha Zilberman, who was granted a visa to play in the event after a long standoff, was eliminated in the first round by Hsu Jen Hao of Taiwan in straight sets, 21-14, 21-14.
In women's singles, unheralded Pai Yu Po of Taiwan came from behind to upset 16th seed Maria Febe Kusumastuti of the host Indonesia 18-21, 21-13 and 21-9 and Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand dismissed ninth-seeded Nozomi Okuhara of Japan 21-12, 17-21, 21-14.
Top seeded and defending champion Carolina Marin of Spain had to fight back from a first-set deficit to dispose of Malaysian Tee Jing Yi in a grueling 70-minute match that ended 19-21, 21-14, 21-13.