TOKYO: Malaysian badminton king Lee Chong Wei brushed off challenges from fast-rising Chinese rival Shi Yuqi Friday at the Yonex Open Japan, advancing to the semifinals as he seeks to regain the title.
Lee, silver medallist in the last three Olympics, took just 40 minutes to secure a comfortable 21-12, 21-12 victory in the men’s singles.
The 33-year-old world number one will now face 15th ranked Marc Zwiebler of Germany in the semifinal as he campaigns to reclaim the Japanese trophy that he lifted in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, and 2007.
Lee gave a stunning performance after recently hinting at possibly extending his career to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for another shot at an elusive badminton gold, despite earlier indicating the Rio Games would be his last.
Meanwhile, sixth-seed Son Wan-Ho of South Korea clinched a 21-18, 21-13 win to stop second-seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, the Rio bronze medallist who staged a dramatic upset against double Olympic champion Lin Dan.
Son will face third-seed Jan O Jorgensen also of Denmark, who knocked out Khosit Phetpradab 21-6, 21-16.
In women’s singles, home fans hailed the victory of 12th ranked Akane Yamaguchi against compatriot and Rio bronze medallist Nozomi Okuhara, who was out to defend the title.
The 21-11, 23-21 win was 19-year-old Yamaguchi’s first triumph against her 21-year-old rival in their seventh international faceoff.
Yamaguchi was the first Japanese to win the Yonex Open Japan in 2013 at age 16.
In men’s doubles, Indonesian pair Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, winners here in 2013, beat Huang Kaixiang and Wang Yilyu of China 21-18, 21-15.
In women’s doubles, Rio gold winning Japanese pair Misaki Matsumoto and Ayaka Takahashi overwhelmed Thai duo Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai in a quick 35-minute, 21-11, 21-8 win.
Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, silver medallists in Rio, squeezed by Malaysians Vivian Kah Mun Hoo and Khe Wei Woon with a 20-22, 23-21, 21-14 victory.