BASEL • Olympic gold medallist Chen Long advanced to the second round of badminton's World Championships with a straight-set victory over Russia's Vladimir Malkov yesterday at the St Jakobshalle in Switzerland.
The third-seeded Chen, who last won the world title in 2014 and 2015, fought off a a dogged Malkov in the second set, in which the Chinese trailed 12-14, but managed to regain the momentum for a 21-14, 21-17 victory in 58 minutes.
The 30-year-old will next take on Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong, who beat China's Huang Yuxiang 21-13, 21-14 .
"I was a little bit nervous," said Chen, who is competing in his seventh world championships.
"This is the first match and he has been playing very well this season. But I have been well-prepared and did pretty well at the crucial moment."
His compatriot and five-time world champion Lin Dan also progressed to the next round, recovering from a first-set loss to down Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam 16-21, 21-12, 21-12.
Also through was Japanese world No. 1 and defending champion Kento Momota, who revealed he is feeling the pressure from the attention, despite easing past Vietnam's Pham Cao Cuong 21-9, 21-10.
Speaking to Badminton Europe, he said: "I am really nervous. I have some strong feelings that are hard to describe. I would like to change that mindset and find the right motivation.
"Last year was different, I was not the top seed, and could be more relaxed."
In the women's singles, Singapore's Yeo Jia Min continued her recent run of good form with a 21-13, 21-13 victory over Turk Aliye Demirbag. The Hyderabad Open champion's reward is a second-round clash against top seed Akane Yamaguchi.
The Japanese player beat Yeo in both of their meetings, including a rubber-set win in the second round of April's Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan.