Denmark’s Peter Gade launched the main European challenge to the might of China with an impressive first-round win at the badminton world championships on Tuesday.
Gade, seeded third and a semi-finalist last year in Paris, beat English champion Rajiv Ouseph 21-8, 21-18 and looked in fine shape at the age of 34.
The Dane said: “His game got going in the second, but I was able to turn it around mentally. He found it difficult near the end.”
Ouseph said: “He showed his class a little bit towards the end and I missed a couple of opportunities.”
China, winner of all five titles a year ago, had earlier steadied the boat on day two after Monday’s shock defeat of fifth-seeded Chen Long by Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon.
Victories for Olympic champion Lin Dan and Wang Shixian, top seed in the women’s singles, restored the balance at Wembley Arena.
All the Chinese top seeds in the three doubles events also made it safely through to the next round.
Lin eased into the second round with a 21-11, 21-10 success over Lithuanian Kestutis Navickas, world-ranked 40.
Lin suffered a surprise quarter-finals exit in Paris last year after three world titles in a row but there was no such problem this time.
Lin’s return of some heavy smashing by Navickas coupled with customary sharp reflexes saw him safely home in 34 minutes.
Lin, seeded second behind Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, said: “Conditions in the hall are good and the drift and light are favorable for me. I feel comfortable here.”
Wang started her campaign with a 21-11, 21-14 success over Bulgaria’s Linda Zechiri.
Wang said: “It doesn’t matter which country the opponents are from, they can still be very good so I need to prepare well to face them.”
In a 69-minute clash, rising Spanish talent Carolina Marin notched the biggest victory of her career to date, outlasting 15th seed Eriko Hirose of Japan 21-23, 21-16, 21-16.
The 18-year-old, who made a big impression at last year’s Youth Olympics, was following up on her win over Yao Jie of the Netherlands on Monday.
“The match was tough for me. I was winning 20-17 in the first set and lost it. But my coach told me to be happy and positive and I won,” a thrilled Marin said. “This tournament is so good for me as I am young and need to get more experience.”
Another teenager at their first world championship also grabbed some of the limelight.
England’s Toby Penty, who will be 19 on Friday, defeated Scotland’s Alistair Casey 21-16, 21-10.
“I was a bit nervous but I really enjoyed it. After a slow start, I was really pleased with the win. Once I got over the nerves I was OK,” Penty said.
In the women’s singles first round, seventh seeded Cheng Shao-chieh of Taiwan beat Lianne Tan of Belgium 21-15, 21-11. In the men’s singles first round, Taiwan’s Hsieh Yu-hsing was beat by Malaysia’s Wong Choon Hann 21-7, 21-9.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER