A LIN Dan in fiery form is unstoppable. And defending champion China can again count on him to deliver in the semi-finals against Malaysia tomorrow.
In a 3-0 quarter-final win over South Korea yesterday, the three-time world champion showed his steely resolve to overcome a spirited Park Sung-hwan 21-16, 21-15 in a 54-minute battle.
Sung-hwan, who is one of the few players in the world to have beaten Lin Dan (in three out of their 14 meetings), did right to push Lin Dan deep into the baseline to force weak returns, which he finished off with stinging smashes.
But Lin Dan always found his way back to reverse the pressure on his opponent. The highly-charged first match victory for China did enough damage to the morale of the Koreans.
Scratch combination Jung Jae-sung-Shin Baek-cheol failed to level the tie, going down to Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng 11-21, 16-21 in just 30 minutes. Chen Jin finished the job for China with a 21-15, 21-12 win over youngster Shon Wan-ho.
Lin Dan, who has played in all of China’s Cup winning campaigns since 2004, said that he would be out to keep up his unbeaten run in the Finals.
“It was a better performance from me today. Sung-hwan and I were quite nervous when we played in the group tie but today, I was more relaxed,” he said.
“I was left trailing against Sung-hwan in the previous match and I was not determined to go through the same route. I did not want to give him any chance to make it happen.”
China’s chief coach Li Yongbo wore a broad smile.
“I saw better performances and commitment from my players. Overall, it was a good team effort,” he said.
On who China preferred to meet in the semi-finals (Denmark and Malaysia played in a quarter-final tie later in the night), Yongbo said: “I don’t think Malaysia can come out of the demoralising defeat by Japan. We will be ready for Denmark.”
But Yongbo’s wish did not come true as Malaysia upstaged Denmark 3-2 to reach the last four.