Lee stretched but Malaysia enter q-finals

KUNSHAN (Jiangsu) • Lee Chong Wei came through an unexpectedly tight first game against German unknown Kai Schaefer before Malaysia reached badminton's Thomas Cup quarter-finals with a 5-0 whitewash yesterday.

The 33-year-old, who will target his maiden Olympic title in Rio in August, was matched nearly blow for blow in the opening game before winning 21-19, 21-15 on day two in Kunshan, China.

Lee's team-mates had an easier time, with Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin beating Lars Schaenzle 21-7, 21-16, while doubles team Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong walloped their opponents Richard Domke and Fabian Holzer 21-12, 21-11 in just 26 minutes.

The Thomas Cup is seen as a vital tune-up for Lee, who is preparing for what looks like his final realistic chance of Olympic gold after losing the last two finals to China's Lin Dan.

With wins over England and now Germany, 2014 Thomas Cup runners-up Malaysia are already into the quarter-finals ahead of their toughest Group C tie against South Korea.

In earlier play, second-seeds Denmark demolished South Africa 5-0 in their first match of the tournament.

European champion Viktor Axelsen rolled through Jacob Maliekal 21-14, 21-11, while world No. 5 Jan Jorgensen thrashed Cameron Coetzer 21-9, 21-9.

In the women's Uber Cup, Thailand routed Bulgaria 5-0, making a commanding statement before squaring off with Indonesia in their final match in group play.

Thai star Ratchanok Intanon stumbled early against Bulgaria's Linda Zetchiri after dropping the first game. But the world No. 2 rebounded with a 17-21, 21-14, 21-15 victory.

Both competitions feature 16 teams divided into four groups, with the top two in each qualifying for the quarter-finals.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'Lee stretched but Malaysia enter q-finals'. Print Edition | Subscribe