NANJING (China) • Viktor Axelsen and Nozomi Okuhara stormed into the last 16 to stay on course for back-to-back men's and women's titles at badminton's World Championships yesterday.
Denmark's Axelsen, the top seed and men's world No. 1, subdued a spirited first-game challenge from China's unseeded Huang Yuxiang before winning 21-17, 21-8.
Women's eighth seed Okuhara of Japan made even shorter work of unseeded Rachel Honderich, sending the Canadian packing 21-11, 21-9 in just 28 minutes.
Hosts China, led by the great Lin Dan, are the sport's superpowers, but they have seen their dominance slip of late and can expect a tough fight against the rest of the world's best in Nanjing.
The early signs are good, however, as Olympic champion Chen Long dispatched Khosit Phetpradab of Thailand 21-16, 21-11 to enter the last 16.
"I think the most important thing when I get on the court is to have the desire to win, and trying my best to win every point, regardless of whether my condition is good or not," the 29-year-old told reporters, according to Chinese website sohu.com.
"He is a tough opponent. I didn't feel that it was a smooth-sailing match at all."
His compatriot, women's fifth seed Chen Yufei, had a rougher time against Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia before prevailing 21-17, 22-20.
After Chen won the first game, Tunjung jumped to a 17-10 lead in the second and looked ready to extend the match to a third game.
But Chen stormed back to take the game and advance. "I think I'm better prepared today, mentally and technically, and this makes me more confident," she told the Xinhua news agency.
In yesterday's late game, veteran superstar Lin Dan, who is gunning for a sixth world title, overcame India's Sameer Verma 21-17, 21-14.
In men's doubles, Hong Kong's Or Chin Chung and Tang Chun Man stretched Chinese second seeds Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan before losing 21-12, 15-21, 21-12.
Rd of 16: StarHub Ch201, 10am