Olympic champion Michael Phelps broke his gold medal drought in Shanghai with a convincing 200m butterfly win Wednesday to claim his third straight world title in his favourite event.
US swimmer Michael Phelps waves to the crowd after competing in the final of men's 200-metre butterfly swimming in the FINA World Championships in Shanghai on July 27. Phelps won the gold
The world record-holder stormed ahead over the early stages and had enough left in the tank to fight off a late challenge by Japan's Takeshi Matsuda, clocking a winning time of 1min 53.34sec.
Matsuda timed 1:54.01 while China's Wu Peng claimed bronze in 1:54.67.
Phelps smiled and shook Wu's hand after his victory, which follows a disappointing third place as part of America's 4x100m freestyle team and silver in the 200m freestyle as his rocky season continued in Shanghai.
Phelps arrived in China, scene of his record-breaking eight-title haul at the Beijing Olympics, on the back of a string of defeats, and admitted he had neglected training and spent too much time playing golf.
His slump reached a nadir in May, when Wu beat him in the 200m butterfly for the second time in two months -- ending a nine-year unbeaten streak Phelps had hoped to preserve until retirement.
Also on Wednesday, Italy's Federica Pellegrini claimed her second successive world freestyle double when she surged from fifth at halfway to win the 200m in 1:55.58 from Australia's Kylie Palmer and Camille Muffat of France.
China's Sun Yang won the men's 800m freestyle title ahead of Canada's Ryan Cochrane with Gergo Kis of Hungary third.
And Australia's "Port Maquarie Missile" James Magnussen swam 47.90sec to top the 100m freestyle semi-final timings, reinforcing his status as favourite for Thursday's final.
The 20-year-old Magnussen, who destroyed Phelps on the way to Australia's famous 4x100m victory on the opening night, was followed by America's Nathan Adrian with reigning champion Cesar Cielo fifth.
"I'm very happy that I am a little bit fast again. It's good. The biggest thing is to be patient -- it's practice for the Olympic Games," Magnussen said.