Axelsen opens title defense with dominating win in Nanjing

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NANJING, China (AP) — World champion Viktor Axelsen has begun his title defense with a dominating 21-8, 21-7 win over Duarte Anjo on the first day of the badminton world championships.

Axelsen controlled the match throughout Monday, taking an early lead in both games before winning 12 of the last 13 points to advance.

Despite being hampered by injuries early in the season, Axelsen won the European Championship in April and appears to be in the kind of form that last year helped him become the first European in 20 years to win the world title.

Third-seeded Shi Yuqi beat Adam Mendrek of Czech Republic 21-13, 21-11 in his opening match. Shi, who won the All England earlier this year, has the highest seeding of any of the Chinese men.

Five-time champion Lin Dan, seeded 9th, opened with a 21-14, 21-14 win over Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands. Caljouw leveled at 9-9 in the second game before Lin pulled away behind a series of precision smashes.

Among other first-round winners was No. 11 H.S. Prannoy of India, who beat Abhinav Manota of New Zealand 21-12, 21-11. He will face Brazilian Ygor Coelho in the second round.

No. 2-ranked Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia withdrew from the world championships and the upcoming Asian Games as he recovers from a respiratory problem, the Badminton Association of Malaysia said.

In men's doubles, India's Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy beat Daniel Nikolov and Ivan Rusev of Bulgaria 21-13, 21-18 to set up a second-round encounter with seventh-seeded Takuto Inoue and Yuli Kaneko of Japan.

All of the seeded players in women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles received first-round byes.

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