TOKYO, March 26 (R-Sport) - Japan's Tatsuki Machida stormed into a surprise lead at the world figure skating championships in Saitama on Wednesday, scoring a massive personal best of 98.21 as Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu fell.
Machida, who came fifth at the Sochi Games last month, had the raucous home crowd in a standing ovation long before he had finished his classy and complex program set to the soundtrack from "East of Eden," smashing his previous maximum by seven points.
Last year's bronze medalist Javier Fernandez, fourth in Sochi, put in a faultless skate to the jazzy "Satan Takes a Holiday" for 96.42 and second place.
Sochi gold medal winner and overwhelming favorite Hanyu, who beat Patrick Chan on the Black Sea last month, fell on his opening quad to score 92.24 for third.
Russian 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun touched down on his opening quadruple salchow but otherwise kept it together for 84.66 and seventh.
The free program is Friday.
In the pairs competition, Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy appeared on course for a fifth world title, going into Thursday's free skate with a two-point lead over Canadian pair Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
Russia's Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov were third after the short program, 0.86 points off the Canadians.
Savchenko and Szolkowy, who were beaten by Russian pair Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov at last year's world championships, are looking to bounce back from a disappointing bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics.
The gold medal winners, Volosozhar and Trankov, are skipping this event.
The short program for the women and ice dance is Thursday.