The second seed looked headed for a quick finish as he led by a game and 17-13 in the second before the veteran Spaniard mounted his comeback, forcing a decider.
The pattern almost repeated in the third game, with Lee leading 19-15, Abian pulling level and even holding two match points, before the Malaysian edged past him at the end.
“So happy I won it today, it was a very important match for me. The shuttle was fast and there were a lot of mistakes by me. I just tried to manage,” Lee told Badminton Europe. “I just tried to calm myself down. I just tried to get every shot.”
Lee will take on Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen, who beat India’s HS Prannoy 16-21 21-17 21-7.
Denmark’s Mathias Christiansen/Alexandra Boje, mixed doubles runners-up at the French Open, also crashed out in the first round, 21-17 13-21 21-19 to Yang Po-Hsuan/Hu Ling Fang.
Among the seeds to fall were Gabriela Stoeva/Stefani Stoeva; Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi; Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet; Maiken Fruergaard/Sara Thygesen and Yvonne Li.
The Stoeva sisters, second seeds in women’s doubles, were outplayed by Indonesia’s young duo Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti/Ribka Sugiarto 21-8 21-16.
Men’s doubles fifth seeds Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi also fell in straight games, to world junior champions Leo Rolly Carnando/Daniel Marthin 21-12 21-19.
Mixed doubles second seeds Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti had a close call against France’s William Villeger/Anne Tran; the Indonesians came through a tight end game on their third match point, 13-21 21-8 23-21.
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