Badminton: Malaysia's Lee moves on, champion Intanon dethroned

Badminton: Malaysia's Lee moves on, champion Intanon dethroned
Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei looks on during their men's singles match against South Korea's Lee Dong-keun (not pictured) during the Badminton World Championship at the Ballerup Super Arena in Copenhagen.

COPENHAGEN - Top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia strolled into the quarter-finals of the men's singles at the badminton world championships on Thursday as women's title-holder Ratchanok Intanon suffered a shock loss.

Lee, bidding for an elusive maiden world title after consecutive runner-up finishes, faced little resistance from third-round opponent Scott Evans of Ireland as he raced to a 21-11, 21-12 win.

"I just focussed on myself, taking things easy to prepare for tomorrow (Friday)," said the world number one, who will encounter Chinese sixth seed Wang Zhengming, a 21-15, 21-18 winner over Hong Kong's Wei Nan, with a place in the last four at stake.

"Tomorrow will be tough. (Wang) has played very well so far, he's an accomplished player but I will focus on myself.

"I'm still not 100 per cent but I hope tomorrow will be better," added Lee, referring to a persistent groin injury that sidelined him for two months prior to this tournament.

His path to the final was made easier following the retirement of Danish third seed Jan O Jorgensen, who was forced to pull out when trailing unseeded Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan 21-9, 9-4.

Jorgensen's coach said the world number three had suffered a torn patella tendon in his right knee early in the match and attempts to patch up the home favourite proved unsuccessful.

"I'm very upset. I would prefer losing rather than not being able to play. Not being able to give a fight is worse," said a visibly distraught Jorgensen.

"My whole dream of winning, of playing, burst so fast because I knew it was not a small thing." China's Chen Long, seeded second, progressed 21-12, 21-10 over India's K. Srikanth and will meet South Korean seventh seed Son Wan-ho, who knocked off Danish number two Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, in the last eight.

Indonesian fifth seed Tommy Sugiarto eased past Hong Kong's Hu Yun 21-10, 21-11 while lone remaining Dane Viktor Axelsen, the 14th seed, and Dutchman Eric Pang also reached the quarters.

Women's champion stunned

There was a huge surprise in the women's draw as defending champion Intanon crashed out in the third round after the 19-year-old succumbed to Japanese 16th seed Minatsu Mitani 8-21, 21-12, 21-18.

"She was quicker and faster in the second game. She made me nervous by defending my smashes so well. I was getting tired after long rallies," said Intanon, who explained that she had spent five days in hospital prior to the tournament with a temperature that peaked at 39.5 degrees Celsius (103.1 degrees Fahrenheit).

"I couldn't play at 100 per cent just four days after leaving hospital. I was only around 50 per cent," said the 2013 champion.

Mitani's reward is a quarter-final against Korean fifth seed Sung Ji-hyun.

China's Wang Yihan, the 2011 champion, also suffered a stunning defeat as she was ruthlessly taken apart by Spanish ninth seed Carolina Marin 21-9, 21-12.

Earlier world number one Li Xuerui of China blasted away 12th-seeded compatriot Han Li 21-9, 21-17 to march into the last eight before calling out her upcoming opponent, India's Saina Nehwal.

On Wednesday Saina called for the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to reduce the number of entrants per country at international tournaments to curb China's dominance in the sport.

Top-ranked Li, one of four Chinese representatives in the women's draw, responded by saying: "Let her beat me first...she still has to face (Chinese players) whether there's two or three of us.

"Even if an opponent isn't in the Chinese team of course she can still win. If she's not strong enough then that's her own problem." Saina, bronze medallist at the London Olympics, overcame a patchy start to claw her way past Japanese 13th seed Sayaka Takahashi 14-21, 21-18, 21-12.

Chinese second seed Wang Shixian also advanced after thrashing Vietnam's Vu Thi Trang 21-12, 21-7 while Taiwanese eighth seed Tai Tzu-ying ended the run of Canada's Commonwealth champion Michelle Li.

India's P.V. Sindhu, the 2013 bronze medallist, was involved in an enthralling contest as the 11th seed fended off three match points before coming through 19-21, 22-20, 25-23 against South Korean sixth seed Bae Yeon-ju.

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