Canada's Rice advances in Olympic badminton

Aug. 09, 2008, 5:47 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Canadian Anna Rice overcame opening-day nerves Saturday to defeat American Eva Lee in three sets at the Olympic badminton tournament.

Rice defeated Lee 21-15, 19-21, 21-19 in the first round of women's singles at Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium.

"The pressure was on me because I've never lost to her before," said Rice. "I was able to get the jitters out and now I look forward to the second round."

Tied 19-all in the final set, Lee's smash went out to give Rice match point. The Vancouver native then won with a drop shot that Lee returned into the net.

"I was just trying to work the rally," said Rice. "I was making a lot of unforced errors so I decided I would try to let her make a few and she finally did at 19-all."

All the top-seeded players have a first-round bye.

China's Lin Dan is top-seeded in the men's singles and will play his first match in the second round Monday against unseeded Ng Wei of Hong Kong.

China's Xie Xingfang, the top-seeded woman, sees her first action Sunday against Taiwan's Cheng Shao-chieh.

Badminton was contested as a demonstration sport during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. It debuted as a full medal sport in 1992 at Barcelona.

China won three out of five gold medals in Athens in 2004 and is expected to dominate the badminton tournament on home soil.

In earlier matches, Maria Kristen Yulianti of Indonesia rallied to defeat Juliane Schenk of Germany in three sets.

Yulianti dropped the first set but recovered for an 18-21, 21-13, 22-20 win over Schenk, setting up a second-round showdown with Spain's Yoana Martinez. Martinez was a 21-9, 21-16 winner over Australia's Erin Carroll.

Other first-round winners included Japan's Eriko Hirose who defeated Iceland's Ragna Bjorg Ingolfsdottir 21-6, 19-7. Ingolfsdottir was forced to retire in the second set after twisting her left knee.

Larysa Gryga of Ukraine downed Italy's Agnese Allegrini 21-15, 21-11. Egypt's Hadia Hosny beat Mexico's Deyanira Angulo 21-18, 7-21, 21-14.

In men's first-round matches, Taiwan's Hsieh Yu-hsing coasted to a 21-16, 21-12 win over Iranian Kaveh Mehrabi; Przemyslaw Wacha of Poland defeated Estonia's Raul Must 21-14, 21-15 while Germany's Marc Zwiebler posted a 21-18, 18-21, 21-19 win over Ireland's Scott Evans.