PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei stormed into the second round of the Japan Open on a day world No. 2 Chen Long and fourth seed Boonsak Ponsana made shocking exits in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Chong Wei, competing in his first tournament proper since the World Championships final defeat to Lin Dan, was just too strong for Taiwan’s Hsu Jen Hao, winning 21-15, 21-9 in 35 minutes.
Chong Wei will take on Anand Pawar in the second round after the world No. 37 Indian shuttler pulled off a stunning 21-17, 7-21, 21-18 win over world No. 12 Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia.
But it was the loss of Chen Long that reveberated around the stadium.
Chen Long, who is seen as the one most likely to end Chong Wei’s reign at No. 1, was off the pace as he fell 22-24, 16-21 to local qualifier Kazuteru Kozai.
Speaking to AFP after the defeat, Chen Long took a swipe at the Badminton World Federation (BWF) for the tight schedule.
“I wish the BWF would arrange a schedule that is not so tight. I have fought week after week and I’m tired ... but that’s normal,” said Chen Long.
“What I need now is to rest, first of all.”
World No. 4 Boonsak, meanwhile, retired injured after trailing another Japanese qualifier – Yuichi Ikeda – 5-11 in the first game.
In mixed doubles, defending champions Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying overcame a nervy start to beat Thailand’s Pakkawat Vilailak-Kunchala Voravichitchaikul 21-18, 21-17.
They will face China’s Liu Cheng-Bao Yixin for a place in the quarter-finals.
Independent women’s pair Ng Hui Lin-Ng Hui Ern also progressed after beating South Korea’s Kim Cho-hee-Park So-young 21-17, 21-17. The sisters will face second seeds and home favourites Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi next.