Lin Dan wins to open bid for 6th BWF World Badminton Championships gold

Lin Dan got his quest underway for a record sixth BWF World Badminton Championship with a routine win over local British hope Kieran Merrilees on Monday.

Lin won 21-15, 21-10 after an 11-1 start.

“Normally the first match is not easy, because I need to get myself in a good mindset,” Lin said. “I did a lot of practice and preparation, so I need to make this mindset last until the end of the championships.”

Next for the seventh-seeded Lin is Emil Holst of Denmark, who beat the Chinese superstar in March at the German Open.

The other names in the top half of the draw were also relatively untroubled; though top-seeded Son Wan Ho began slowly.

Son didn’t have it easy against Finland’s Kalle Koljonen in his first round match.The 29-year-old trailed in the early stages of the first game — 3-5 and 5-7 — before eventually getting in front 9-8. He took it 21-14.

The second was also a tester. It got to 16-all before the South Korean broke through to win 21-14, 21-16 in 44 minutes.

Son could become the first South Korean male to win the world championship, but he has to pass the quarterfinals for the first time. He and Kidambi Srikanth, who beat Son while winning consecutive Superseries titles in Indonesia and Australia in June, are seeded to meet in the quarters.

The bottom half of the men’s draw begins on Tuesday and features all three medallists from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics: Gold medallist and defending two-time worlds champion Chen Long, silver medallist Lee Chong Wei, and bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen.

Chen, the Asian championship winner, starts against Georges Julien Paul of Mauritius. Chen’s on course to meet Chong Wei in the quarterfinals. The winner then could play Axelsen.

Chong Wei, three times a worlds runner-up, begins against Brice Leverdez of France, against whom he has a 7-1 record.

All 16 women’s seeds received byes into the second round, including Olympic and two-time defending champion Carolina Marin of Spain, and top-seeded Akane Yamaguchi. No. 1-ranked Tai Tzu-ying is skipping the worlds to play in the World University Games in her Taiwan homeland.

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