Five-time champion Lin Dan was pushed to three games again to reach the quarterfinals at the badminton worlds on Thursday.
Lin defeated European champion Rajiv Ouseph 14-21, 21-17, 21-16 and didn’t find Chinese teammate Shi Yuqi as his next opponent.
Shi, on the day he climbed to a career-best No. 2 world ranking, lost yet again to Vincent Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong, who’s enjoying a career-best week.
Meanwhile, defending two-time champion Chen Long, Olympic bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen, top-seeded Son Wan Ho, and the in-form Kidambi Srikanth all advanced.
The top two women’s seeds lost, to no great surprise, but the survivors included past champions Carolina Marin of Spain and Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.
Before facing Lin, Ouseph believed there were “a few chinks in his armor,” and the Englishman found enough to take a first game off the Chinese superstar in four matches. But in the second game Lin was always ahead, and in the third Lin ended any doubt, surging from 9-7 to 16-7.
Unlike Ouseph, Wong has beaten Lin, in 2011. But this week, Wong is touching new heights. His first-round win was his first ever at the worlds in a 12-year pro career. In the second round he saved three match points against Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan.
On Thursday, he improved to 2-0 against Shi, the new world No. 2. Shi has reached two finals and two semifinals this year, but he was overhauled by an inspired Wong in their third game. Wong, from 10-6 down, won 13 of the next 14 points en route to a 21-13, 15-21, 21-16 result.
Chen Long, yet to drop a game, must get past fellow Chinese Tian Houwei to likely face a rematch of the Olympic semifinal with Axelsen.
Son will try to pass the worlds quarterfinals for the first time at the expense of Kidambi, riding a 13-match winning streak. They are 4-4 in head to heads, but Kidambi won both of their matches this year.
Chen Yufei, the junior world champion from China, beat women’s No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan 21-18, 21-19. It was Chen’s first win in their four matchups, including losses this year in the Asian team championships and Australian Open. But Yamaguchi hasn’t been a closer, and couldn’t impose herself.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Chen said. Her reward was Ratchanok, the 2013 world champion.
Marin hardly broke a sweat again, and lined up Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, whom she has a 3-5 record against, and 1-1 this year.
Nehwal, the former No. 1 chasing her first world title, took out second-seeded Sung Ji-hyun of South Korea 21-19, 21-15. She next faces inspired local Kirsty Gilmour, who lives 15 minutes away.
Another Indian, Olympic runner-up Pusarla Sindhu, will play Sun Yu of China in another quarterfinal.