LONDON • Defending champion Carolina Marin survived a scare by South Korean Bae Yeon Ju to reach the second round of the All-England Open yesterday.
The Spaniard needed 88 minutes to prevail 25-23, 20-22, 21-15.
She trailed 6-9 in the deciding game, but a run of six straight points set the top-ranked badminton player up for victory.
The first game alluded to a see-saw battle, with the lead changing hands eight times. Marin went up 20-18 but had to save two game points before taking the opener.
Despite the missed opportunities for Bae, the Korean world No. 15 continued to turn on the pressure. She raced to leads of 9-3 and 14-7, only to face - and save - two match points at 18-20. But Marin was not to be denied at the third time of asking in the decider.
The win means the 22-year-old is still on track to make history at the world's oldest tournament. Already the first Spaniard to win a world title, the first to win an All-England Open title, and the first to defend a world title, Marin is now aiming for a first defence of the women's singles title at the All-England.
China steamrollered to 14 All-England women's singles titles in 18 years until Marin's rise to prominence a year and a half ago. But she believes her toughest opponent here is herself.
"If I control myself I know I can win," she said before the start of the Super Series Premier event. "To do this I must first enjoy my matches."
Men's defending champion and world No. 1 Chen Long is also through to the next round. He took out Japan's Kenta Nishimoto 21-18, 21-12. Compatriot Lin Dan, seeking a sixth All-England Open title at the age of 32, ousted South Korean Lee Dong Keun 21-17, 21-17.
Singapore's mixed doubles pairing of Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Vanessa Neo lost to the Indonesian eighth seeds Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto 14-21, 17-21 in 29 minutes.
Round of 16, StarHub Ch201, 8pm