Lin Dan of China returns a shot during the men's singles 1st round match against Sattawat Pongnairat of the United States at the 2013 BWF World Championships on Aug. 5, 2013.
Four-time world champion Lin Dan moved effortlessly through to the second round of the world championships in Guangzhou yesterday, putting in a powerful performance after a year from competition.
The reigning world champion trounced American Sattawat Pongnairat 21-6, 21-9 and although the Chinese player was hardly stretched, the man regarded by many as the sport's best ever player showed flashes of classic play.
Lin stays on course to meet archrival Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia if both make it to the tournament final after being placed in opposite halves of the draw, as world No. 1 Lee also beat his first round opponent.
"I didn't slow down the pace at any point," Lin said after the match. "My coach just told me to make sure I got to 21 points and that was my main goal."
Delicate touches at the net, powerful smashes and athleticism around the court belied the fact that this was only the fourth international game for "Super Dan" since taking Olympic gold in London.
The home crowd chanted his name as he strolled to victory against the American.
Lin's current form after a year out to spend time with his wife and family has been the subject of speculation, as he dropped to 100 in the world rankings following his break. But after yesterday's match he told reporters he was back on track.
"I will take every match seriously and respect every opponent," he said.
Lee eased his way through the first round too, dispatching Ireland's Scott Evans 21-11, 21-15.
Evans found it hard to make an impression on the agile Malaysian whose lightning reflexes created an almost impenetrable defence.
"I knew my opponent of the day wasn't so strong but I wanted to make a good start in the tournament, and get adjusted to the conditions," said Lee after his first-round win.
"A lot of people are saying that this might be my best chance to win the world championships. And I will take the chance," he added.
Lee, 30, who became a father in April to son Kingston, knows that this could be his last chance to beat Lin on the big stage, after losing the last two Olympic finals to the Chinese player, as well as the 2011 world title match.
And Lee will be gunning for Malaysia's first ever world title off the back of wins this year in South Korea, Indonesia, India and Malaysia.
Lee and Lin are close friends off the court and the Malaysian said he knew the Chinese star had "prepared well."
World No. 2 Chen Long from China made short work of Austria's Luka Wraber 21-2, 21-5.
China's Du Pengyu, ranked third, had to work hard for his victory against a tenacious Shon Wan-Ho of South Korea 21-17, 16-21, 21-13, taking an hour and 25 minutes to seal the win.