Lin, Lee cruise at worlds as Marin survives

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 Lin Dan of China returns to American Sattawat Pongnairat during his 21-8, 21-11 victory at the world championships in Jakarta yesterday.

Five-time champion Lin Dan of China and his Malaysian arch rival Lee Chong Wei eased their way to the second round of the world championships in Jakarta, Indonesia, following easy victories yesterday.

The fifth-seeded Lin overpowered Sattawat Pongnairat of the United States 21-8, 21-11 while unseeded Lee outclassed Lithuanian Kestutis Navickas 21-9, 21-13.

Both Lin and Lee are expected to meet in the semifinals of the men's singles, with the final scheduled for Sunday.

The two-time Olympic medalist Lin hoped the return of Lee — following a doping ban — would increase the level of competition. Lee, then the world's top-ranked player, was suspended for eight months for doping after last year's world championships. He returned to play in the Sudirman Cup in May.

"Of course I am looking forward to meeting with Lee in the semifinals," said the 2008 and 2012 Olympic winner. "I would love to play with Lee again."

Routes to the semifinals in Jakarta are not easy for both Lin and Lee, who are grouped with other seeded players in the next rounds.

Lin will face either 2nd-seeded Dane Jan O Jorgensen, ninth-seeded Son Wan-ho of South Korea or 14th-seed Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark, who beat Kieran Merrilees of Scotland 21-16, 21-15.

Lee, meanwhile, could come up against 3rd-seeded Srikanth Kidambi of India, 8th seed Wang Zhengming of China, 12th-seeded Wiebler of Germany or 13th seed Hu Yun of China's Hong Kong.

"Today I'm quite confident ... and hopefully I would be better tomorrow," said Lee, who realized his duel with Lin was long-awaited by many spectators.

Also advancing were Kidambi who eliminated Michael Fariman of Australia 21-10, 21-13 and Hu, who defeated Rosario Maddaloni of Italy 21-15, 21-13.

In women's singles, top seed Carolina Marin, who nearly pulled out of the tournament due to injury, had a scare as she embarked on the defense of her title.

The world No. 1 lost her first game against Malaysia's Tee Jing Yi, before finding her feet and delivering some blistering smashes to convincingly claim the match 19-21, 21-14, 21-13.

Also, unheralded Pai Yu-po of Taiwan came from behind to upset home favorite and 16th seed Maria Febe Kusumastuti of Indonesia 18-21, 21-13, 21-9.

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