KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei barely broke sweat en route to cruising into the second round of the India Open badminton championships in New Delhi.
The 30-year-old Chong Wei, who became a father last week, made sure that the sacrifice he was making was worthwhile with a thoroughly dominant performance in beating Ireland’s Scott Evans 21-16, 21-5 in just 23 minutes in the first round yesterday.
The win was also the perfect tonic for Chong Wei, following a surprising defeat in the Australian Open earlier this month.
He will next face Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai, who defeated Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki 21-16, 18-21, 21-12, for a place in the quarter-finals.
Young Malaysian back-up shuttler Iskandar Zulkarnian Zainuddin also pulled through after beating local qualifier Subhankar Dey 21-17, 21-11.
Iskandar was lucky to have earned a free ride into the main draw following world No. 4 Sony Dwi Kuncoro’s 11th hour withdrawal.
Iskandar will face either Japan’s world junior champion Kento Momota or another Indian shuttler B. Sai Praneeth for a place in the last eight.
National singles coach Tey Seu Bock was happy with the way Chong Wei and Iskandar kick-started their campaigns.
“Chong Wei was at his usual high standard and it was a good start. The shuttle was a bit fast and there weren’t too many rallies, but it worked well in his favour,” Seu Bock said from New Delhi.
“As for Iskandar, he played very well too. He started off a little nervous but settled down and grew into the game.”
In the men’s doubles, world No. 2 Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong stayed in the hunt for their first title of the year with a strong display against Thailand’s Songphon Anugritayawon-Poodchalat Pisit.
The second seeds were too strong for the Thais, winning 21-15, 21-18 to set up a clash against Indian qualifiers Surender Rathee-Neeraj Vashist next.
In the mixed doubles, world No. 5 Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying enjoyed a first round bye and will face Japan’s Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Miyuki Maeda today.