(Reuters) - Arch rivals Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan remained on course for a blockbuster men’s singles semi-final showdown at the world championships when they enjoyed routine third round victories in Jakarta on Thursday.
Chinese fifth seed Lin crushed Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus 21-9 21-13 while Malaysia’s Lee was given a more thorough test by Wang Zhengming in his 21-17 21-19 victory.
Nearing the end of glittering careers that have seen them dominate the sport for almost a decade, Lee has been impressive since his return from a doping ban but will be all too aware that nemesis Lin blocks his path to glory once more.
Lee tested positive for anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone last October but successfully appealed he had taken the illegal substance inadvertently and had his ban back-dated and reduced to eight months on appeal.
Although Lee has spent almost 300 weeks at the top of the global rankings, he has never captured a world title or Olympic gold medal and the 32-year-old is almost certainly playing in his last world championships ahead of his swansong at Rio 2016.
Lin has captured every major honor and will be confident of clinching a sixth global crown on Sunday before embarking on a search for a third straight Olympic title ahead of retirement. He has beaten Lee in four of those major finals.
On the other side of the draw, Chinese top seed and defending champion Chen Long put on a supreme display of court coverage with a 21-17 21-18 victory over unseeded Thai Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk to book his place in the quarter-finals.
Fourth seed Kento Momota of Japan also advanced with a 21-15 21-16 win over Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh and second seeded Dane Jan Ø. Jørgensen beat Korea’s Son Wan-ho 21-19 21-11 to set up a last-eight encounter against Lin.
Earlier, India’s P.V. Sindhu caused the first major upset in either of the singles draws when the 20-year-old stunned Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China 21-17 14-21 21-17 in a pulsating women’s third round encounter.
Sindhu often saves her best for this tournament and will be looking to improve on her two previous bronze medal performances if she can maintain the form that saw her storm to victory past the third seed.
There was also the hint of another upset in same half of the draw when top seed and defending champion Carolina Marin dropped the second game of her match against Taiwan’s Pai Yu-po but the injury-prone Spaniard dug deep to advance 21-11 18-21 21-17.
On a good day for India in the women’s singles, second seed Saina Nehwal overcame a sluggish start against Japanese southpaw Sayaka Takahashi to book her place in the last eight with a gutsy 21-18 21-14 victory over her fast-starting opponent.
The biggest upset of the day came in the women’s doubles when top-seeded Japanese pair Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi were stunned in three games by unseeded Malaysian duo Amelia Alicia Anscelly and Soong Fie Cho.
Reporting by John O'Brien in Singapore; editing by Justin Palmer