World badminton No. 1 Lee Chong Wei managed a nerve-jangling win on Wednesday when he saved two match points in the first round of the All-England Open.
Lee looked dead and buried at 19-20 down in the final game with Wong Wing Ki launching a kill from an imposing position.
However, the world No. 18 from Hong Kong hammered it into the net and a couple of minutes later the Malaysian had completed an improbable escape by 13-21, 21-6, 23-21.
Lee did that after saving another match point at 20-21, producing a good smash to the body and a nerveless piece of judgment in leaving Wong’s ensuing block, which sailed just long.
Earlier third-seeded Du Pengyu and the sixth seeded Hu Jun crashed out of the men’s singles, while two other Chinese players, Li Xuerui, the Olympic champion, and Wang Yihan, the world champion, were knocked out of the women’s tournament.
Taiwanese world No. 28 Chou Chen-tien beat Du 21-17, 10-21, 21-18, to earn the finest victory of his career against the No. 3 seed and World Super Series finals runner-up.
Hu also went down in three games, Thai world No. 39 Tanonsak Saensomboonsuk beating him 21-16, 11-21, 23-21.
In another men’s singles first round match Kashyap Parupalli of India beat Hsu Jen-hao of Taiwan 21-17, 21-18.
In the women’s tournament defending champion Li suffered one of the most extraordinary defeats in the history of the game in her first round loss.
Widely regarded as the sport’s outstanding fermale player after her triumph at the Olympics, Li went down 18-21, 18-21 to Bae Yeon-ju , the world No. 13 from South Korea, in an early morning match.
It became an even more stunning opening day when China’s other leading woman player, Wang Yihan, the world champion, also fell at the first hurdle. Wang let slip leads of 8-4, 12-9, and 16-15 in the second game of a 12-21, 19-21 defeat to Lindaweni Fanetri, the world No. 18 from Indonesia.
In other first-round action No. 8 seed Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand defeated Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan 21-18, 21-13, while Taiwan’s Pai Hsiao-ma beat Chan Tsz Ka of Hong Kong 21-10, 21-9.
Additional reporting by staff writer