Lee cruises as All England rivals struggle

LONDON Wed Mar 5, 2014 8:04pm EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - It was a near perfect day for Malaysia's world number one Lee Chong Wei at the All England badminton championships on Wednesday as he cruised through the first round while his main rivals struggled.

Lee, a silver medalist at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, played within himself to dispose of Thailand's Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 21-15 21-17 and book his place in the second round.

While Lee was in cruise control, world number three Tommy Sugiarto was dumped out of the tournament by China's Gao Huan.

Gao took the first game 21-13 but Sugiarto smashed through the second 21-10. While many expected the Indonesian to go on to seal the win, it was Gao who took the decider 21-18.

Another of Lee's main rivals, Chen Long, also looked in danger of an early exit when he lost his first game 21-10 to Denmark's Viktor Axelsen.

Chen, who defeated Lee in last year's final, found himself trailing in the second game but fought back to win 21-15, then completed the victory 21-12 in the deciding game.

Chen said he was not surprised there had been spectacular early upsets.

"The All England championships is a tournament that has a lot of character and it is not a surprise to see a big upset caused by a lower ranked player to a high ranked player," he said.

"It's a really special tournament and it is unique and everyone wants to win it.

"It was almost a bad result for me but I can handle losing, what I cannot handle is playing badly."

Chen next plays Japan's Takuma Ueda while Malaysian Lee plays compatriot Chong Wei Feng.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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