Badminton icons Lee Yong Dae and Zhang Nan took on each other for the 19th time today in the 2022 Gwangju YONEX Korea Masters opening round, six years after their last duel.
Korean Lee, who was ahead 11-7 in their head-to-head before play, combined with new partner Jae Hyeon Kim to emerge winners against sixth seeds Zhang and Liu Cheng at Gwangju Yeonju Stadium.
Despite dropping the first game 21-18, six-time winner Lee and Kim took the second 21-15 before winning the decider 21-11.
Lee and Zhang last battled in the 2016 Thomas Cup quarterfinals, which the Korean won with Yoo Yeon Seong.
Lee’s previous partner Kim Gi Jung also opened with a victory over another home tandem, beating Kang Ji Wook/Kim Dukyoung 17-21 21-14 21-18 alongside Kim Sa Rang, with whom he won the competition in 2013 and 2015.
It was however a mixed day for host nation shuttlers, as only half of their dozen representatives cleared the first hurdle.
In women’s singles, world No.69 American Lauren Lam claimed an upset win over Zhang Yi Man, who is ranked 34 spots above her. The 19-year-old won 21-19 21-17 in 34 minutes.
Zhang’s Olympic champion compatriots Chen Yu Fei and Wang Yi Lyu/Huang Dong Ping, top seeds in women’s singles and mixed doubles, picked up better results to advance to Thursday’s second round.