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May 28, 2017

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China's world title hope Chen off to smooth start

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Chen Long eased his way into the second round of the badminton world championship on Tuesday with a routine victory over Austrian rank outsider Luka Wraber in Copenhagen.

Chinese second seed Chen is carrying the burden of his country's expectations with global superstar and five-time world champion Lin Dan out of the equation in Denmark and the 25-year-old produced a solid performance to dismantle 91st-ranked Wraber 21-8, 21-10.

Chen's patchy form has restricted the world number two to just one title, the Korean Open in January, this season but the Chinese are pinning their hopes on him to maintain the country's dominance in the men's singles with a seventh straight title.

Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto, a potential semifinal opponent for Chen, never looked in trouble against Singapore's Zi Liang Derek Wong as the fifth seed recorded a 21-12, 21-14 victory to take the first step in his quest to emulate his father, Icuk, who won the world title in the Danish capital in 1983.

Seventh seed Son Wan-ho, though, narrowly avoided becoming the biggest casualty in the men's draw as he was forced to dig deep to see off the challenge from plucky Frenchman Brice Leverdez.

Leverdez, ranked 25th, had the Korean seemingly on the ropes after shading a tight first game but Son rallied to level before again finding himself trailing 12-5 in the third game.

However, the French shuttler couldn't close it out and Son eventually came through a gripping contest 20-22, 21-12, 21-19.

Former world junior champion Tian Houwei staved off an upset bid from Takuma Ueda, Japan's hero from their maiden Thomas Cup title in May, with the Chinese 11th seed holding on 21-16, 12-21, 21-14 but 16th seed Chong Wei Feng of Malaysia was eliminated by England's Rajiv Ouseph.

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