Lin, Axelsen sail in worlds openers

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Chinese superstar Lin Dan and "nervous" No. 1 Viktor Axelsen both made ominously fast starts at the world championships yesterday.
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AFP

Lin Dan of China hits a shot against Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands during their first-round match at the world championships in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, yesterday. Lin won 21-14, 21-14.

Chinese superstar Lin Dan and “nervous” No. 1 Viktor Axelsen both made ominously fast starts at the world championships yesterday.

The 34-year-old Lin is seeking a sixth world title and in front of an adoring crowd in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu Province, he made light work of Dutchman Mark Caljouw, winning 21-14, 21-14 in 49 minutes.

“Super Dan” nonchalantly ended one long rally with a deft flick, the shuttlecock dipping just over the net to bring the arena to its feet in appreciation.

Caljouw leveled at 9-9 in the second game before Lin pulled away behind a series of precision smashes. Lin will face India’s Sameer Verma next.

Axelsen, the top seed and reigning champion from Denmark, was even more emphatic, needing just 26 minutes to thrash Duarte Nuno Anjo of Portugal 21-8, 21-7 in a mismatch.

Also safely through on the first day of action was China’s third seed Shi Yuqi, a comfortable 21-13, 21-11 winner over Adam Mendrek of the Czech Republic. He will next play Rajiv Ouseph from England.

The 24-year-old Axelsen, who has endured an injury-affected season, admitted afterwards to a bout of nerves — though it hardly showed.

“I don’t want to think too much (about my title defense), it is important for me,” Axelsen was quoted by the Xinhua news agency as saying.

“I need to be relaxed and see how far I can go.

“I was a little nervous today, but I feel good about the arena, it’s very big and easy for me to have a good control of the shuttle.”

The Dane will face China’s Huang Yuxiang in the second round.

Two-time champion and Olympic gold medalist Chen Long of China beat Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen-hao 21-13, 21-15 in a 57-minute match marked by numerous long rallies. Chen will meet Khosit Phetpradab of Thailand in the second round.

Among other first-round winners was No. 11 HS Prannoy of India, who beat Abhinav Manota of New Zealand 21-12, 21-11. Prannoy will face Brazilian Ygor Coelho in the next round.

No. 2-ranked Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia withdrew from the world championships and the upcoming Asian Games as he recovers from a respiratory problem, the Badminton Association of Malaysia said.

In men’s doubles, India’s Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy beat Daniel Nikolov and Ivan Rusev of Bulgaria 21-13, 21-18 to set up a second-round encounter with seventh-seeded Takuto Inoue and Yuli Kaneko of Japan.

All of the seeded players in women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles received first-round byes.

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