Viktor Axelsen paid tribute to the amazing local support at the Axiata Arena after the world number one powered past Brice Leverdez 22-20, 21-7 in just 30 minutes to book a second-round berth at the Malaysia Open.

Axelsen was matched point for point in the first game by the Frenchman who famously knocked out Lee Chong Wei in the 2017 World Championships, but found the extra gear in deuce to take the lead.

That first-game intensity took the wind out of the 36-year-old Leverdez, as Axelsen was left to pick his opponent apart in the second game for the win.

“It feels great to be playing again in Malaysia. The fans have been superb and I am already looking forward to getting back on court,” said Axelsen, who also joked his second-round opponent Lee Cheuk Yiu would not be training with him anymore if the Hong Kong shuttler wins.

Axelsen is the man to beat in Malaysia after the Olympic champion secured back-to-back titles in Indonesia.

While Axelsen progressed with ease, the same can’t be said about several big name shuttlers who crashed out in the opening round.

World champion Loh Kean Yew fell victim to Lee 19-21, 12-21, while Gregoria Mariska Tunjung stunned top seed Akane Yamaguchi 21-14, 21-14 in the women's singles.

The Singaporean shuttler, who was born in Penang, was upset he could not get the better of his opponent.

“I don’t think I have beaten him before. Nonetheless, I am disappointed in my own performance,” he said.

The rest of the favourites including Anthony Ginting, Carolina Marin and An Se-young all progressed comfortably to the next round.