France’s Brice Leverdez produced the shock of the day as Lee Chong Wei’s bid for a maiden TOTAL BWF World Championship title ended in dramatic circumstances in Glasgow.
The Malaysian superstar was tipped to be one of those battling for the trophy come the weekend, but it wasn’t to be in the Emirates Arena, stunned 21-19 22-24 21-17 by Leverdez.
It could have been worse for second seed Lee after saving two match points in the second set, before eventually succumbing in the very first round.
But while the three-time silver medallist was left dejected, nothing could be taken away from a stunning Leverdez display as he revelled in one of his greatest wins.
“I’m really happy, I was relaxed on the court and that was the way I wanted to play,” Leverdez said.
“I prepared very well, I usually don’t play well when I train hard like this, but I managed to make a difference in my mentality on the court.
“I was able to play with no stress, I know I am the underdog when I play Lee Chong Wei and usually I would have put pressure on myself to play well, but this time I wanted to play my game, joke on court with myself and it will be fine.
“The confidence is the same, if it’s Lee Chong Wei or anyone else I have to play the same game, if I play like this, relaxed and confident, then it’s okay, but if I take it too easy then I will lose.”
There was to be no early departure for two-time champion Chen Long however, breezing past Georges Julien Paul of Mauritius in under half an hour.
Chen conceded just 16 points across the two games, reaffirming his status as fifth seed as he looks to follow up the Olympic gold medal success from Rio last summer.
He now has a clash with Sony Dwi Kuncoro to look forward to, an opponent he lost out to in their first meeting in 2009.
“I think because my competitor was not that strong and Lee Chong Wei lost his game on another court, the first game was really important to me,” he said.
“I will try my best and first I need to rest well, then I will give it my all to win the game.
The Olympics are the Olympics and the World Championships are the World Championships, they mean different things to me and I will do all I can to become world champion.”
Meanwhile P.V Sindhu was to also put in an assured performance, as her quest for the elusive World Championship gold medal got underway.
That came courtesy of a 21-16 21-14 win over Korea’s Kim Hyo Min, though there is plenty more to come before the Indian star can think about celebrating.
“The result and the performance were very important to me and it went well, I was able to play my strokes,” she said.
“I didn’t think about the shock of Lee Chong Wei losing, I just knew I had to play well and do my best.
“It’s very important to me to get a medal because each round is equally tough and they’re all important right from the start.”
The end of the second day saw Victor Axelsen reach the last 32, but not before surviving a scare against Takuma Ueda.
The Japanese star took the opening set 21-17, but the third seed was to battle back in an emphatic style, taking the last two sets 21-6 21-13 on Court One.
The TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 is being staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena from 21-27 August.
It is being delivered by BADMINTONscotland in partnership with Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council and with funding support from EventScotland and The National Lottery through UK Sport.
Tickets available at www.glasgow2017.com/tickets