China's Chen Long enjoyed a fine victory over the world number one and defending champion, Denmark's  Viktor Axelsen, at the World Badminton Championships in Nanjing ©Getty Images

Top seeds Viktor Axelsen from Denmark and Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying were each knocked out of the Badminton World Federation World Championships today in Nanjing.

Women's singles defending champion Nozomi Okuhara, from Japan, was also beaten on a dramatic day of quarter-finals at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre.

Defending men's singles gold medal winner Axelsen was beaten 21-19, 21-11 by China's Olympic champion Chen Long. 

Chen had to settle for the bronze medal last year after losing to Axelsen in the semi-finals but will now seek to add to his 2014 and 2015 successes.

"I stuck with my tactics no matter how my opponent was doing - taking a lead or falling behind," the winner said. 

"I firmly believed that I could go all out to win this match."

Chen is now scheduled to face Shi Yuqi, who narrowly beat Chinese Tapei rival Chou Tien Cheng 16-21, 21-15, 21-18 today, in an all-Chinese semi-final.

Malaysia's Darin Liew, who trains independently of the national team, continued his winning run by beating Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan 22-20, 21-23, 22-20, after squandering three match points in the second game.

He Bingjiao also secured a shock victory in the women's singles draw ©Getty Images
He Bingjiao also secured a shock victory in the women's singles draw ©Getty Images

He is now set to face another Japanese opponent, Kento Momota, after he beat Sai Praneeth of India 21-12, 21-12.

Tai lost just her second contest in 37 matches following an epic clash with He Bingjiao of China in the women's draw.

He triumphed 21-18, 7-21, 21-13.

It marked a fourth straight quarter-finals loss for Tai at the World Championships.

India's Pusarla Sindhu beat Okuhara in a repeat of last year's final, albeit with a different result, as Sindhu eased home 21-17, 21-19 in under an hour.

Third seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan lies in wait in the semi-finals after a 21-13, 17-21, 21-16 win over Chen Yufei of China. 

He is now set to face Spain's two-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin, who thrashed Saina Nehwal of India, 21-6, 21-11.