Badminton: Easy opener for Lee Chong Wei as his key rivals struggle at All-England

LONDON (Reuters) - It was a near-perfect day for Malaysia's world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei at the All England badminton championships on Wednesday, as he cruised through the first round while his main rivals struggled.

Lee beat Thailand's Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 21-15, 21-17 to book his place in the second round, while world No. 3 Tommy Sugiarto was dumped out of the tournament by China's Gao Huan, losing 13-21, 21-10, 18-21.

Another of Lee's main rivals, Chen Long, had also looked in danger of an early exit when he lost his first game 21-10 to Denmark's Viktor Axelsen. Last year's All-England winner found himself trailing in the second game but fought back to win 21-15, then completed the victory 21-12 in the deciding game.

"The All England championships is a tournament that has a lot of character and it is not a surprise to see a big upset caused by a lower ranked player to a high ranked player," Chen said.

"It's a really special tournament and it is unique and everyone wants to win it. It was almost a bad result for me but I can handle losing, what I cannot handle is playing badly."

Chen next plays Japan's Takuma Ueda while Lee plays compatriot Chong Wei Feng.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.