Lin Dan gets off the block smoothly

Lin Dan gets off the block smoothly

Olympic champion Lin Dan opened his badminton title defence in style at the London Games on Monday, but top seed Lee Chong Wei survived a huge scare in his opening match.

Malaysia's Lee went into his clash with world number 45 Ville Lang of Finland thoroughly under-done, having not played a competitive match since sustaining an ankle injury in May.

After wrapping up the first set comfortably, Lee promptly fell in a hole in the second before closing out the match 21-8, 14-21, 21-11 with a series of smashes. "(In the last part) I just tried my original Lee Chong Wei," he told reporters, appearing a little shell-shocked.

"Only mentally am I very, very strong. I'm still not 100 percent (physically) but I still beat him and can keep going on in the tournament."

Lee faces another stiff challenge in the last 16 where he will face Indonesian ninth seed Simon Santoso, but may not have bargained for such a torrid time against Lang, who played an inspired match after spotting Finland president Sauli Niinisto in the crowd.

Lee's long-time nemesis Lin Dan, the man who beat him for both the world title at Wembley Arena last year and for gold at the Beijing Games, had a far easier time against Irishman Scott Evans, riding out a 21-8, 21-14 winner.

China's all-powerful team swept all five of the world titles at the same venue last year and are primed to achieve the same feat at London, but Danish veteran Peter Gade kept the flag flying for Europe with a 21-14, 21-8 win over Portugal's Pedro Martins.

China's top women all proceeded smoothly, with world number one Wang Yihan easing past Canada's Michele Li 21-8, 21-16. She was joined in the last 16 by second-seeded countrywoman Wang Xin who blasted American Rena Wang 21-8, 21-6.

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