China's main world title hope Chen off to smooth start
Long Chen of China returns against Luka Wraber of Austria during their match at the 2014 BWF Badminton World championships held at the Ballerup Super Arena in Copenhagen on August 26, 2014 - by Keld Navntoft
Chinese second seed Chen is carrying the burden of his country's expectations with global superstar and five-time world champion Lin Dan out of the equation in Denmark and the 25-year-old produced a solid performance to dismantle 91st-ranked Wraber 21-8, 21-10.
Chen's patchy form has restricted the world number two to just one title, the Korean Open in January, this season but the Chinese are pinning their hopes on him to maintain the country's dominance in the men's singles with a seventh straight title.
Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto, a potential semi-final opponent for Chen, never looked in trouble against Singapore's Zi Liang Derek Wong as the fifth seed recorded a 21-12, 21-14 victory to take the first step in his quest to emulate his father, Icuk, who won the world title in the Danish capital in 1983.
Seventh seed Son Wan-ho, though, narrowly avoided becoming the biggest casualty in the men's draw as he was forced to dig deep to see off the challenge from plucky Frenchman Brice Leverdez.
Leverdez, ranked 25th, had the Korean seemingly on the ropes after shading a tight first game but Son rallied to level before again finding himself trailing 12-5 in the third game.
However, the French shuttler couldn't close it out and Son eventually came through a gripping contest 20-22, 21-12, 21-19.
Former world junior champion Tian Houwei staved off an upset bid from Takuma Ueda, Japan's hero from their maiden Thomas Cup title in May, with the Chinese 11th seed holding on 21-16, 12-21, 21-14 but 16th seed Chong Wei Feng of Malaysia was eliminated by England's Rajiv Ouseph.
Only three places separate Feng from 22nd-ranked Ouseph, who saved two match points on Tuesday, and it was the latter who held his nerve towards the end.
Ouseph, disappointed to miss out on a medal at last month's Commonwealth Games where he finished fourth, recovered from dropping the opening game to pull off a 17-21, 24-22, 21-16 victory with the Englishman on a collision course with Chen should the pair both win in the next round.
World number one Li Xuerui advanced into the last 16 of the women's tournament as the defending Olympic champion saw off spirited resistance from Czech player Kristina Gavnholt to record a 21-13, 21-17 triumph.
Li lost last year's final to Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon and is keen to make amends for the painful defeat she suffered in Guangzhou.
"Losing (the 2013 final) was very sad – the World Championships is difficult for me," the Chinese player told bwfbadminton.org.
"I have had a lot to overcome mentally, but now I have done that I come here with much more confidence," added the 23-year-old.
As for title-holder Intanon she was put under pressure by Spain's Beatriz Corrales early but her class eventually prevailed in a 21-18, 21-10 win.
"In the first game, I was getting used to the court and to how (Corrales) was playing," said Intanon.
"In the second, I had adapted and it was easier. I was a little tired because I was ill and not playing recently,” said Intanon, 19.
Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal of India made light work of Russia's Natalia Perminova as she swept into round three courtesy of a 21-11, 21-9 rout.
South Korean fifth seed Sung Ji-hyun has made it as far as the third round without taking to the court at all after an initial bye was followed by a walkover while China's Han Li and Japan's Minatsu Mitani are also through to last 16.
There was no such luck for Thai 14th seed Nichaon Jindapon, though, who was bounced out by Indonesia's Lindaweni Fanetri.
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