PETALING JAYA: The year may be coming to an end but Lin Dan is not yet done with Lee Chong Wei. He aims to heap more misery on the Malaysian World No. 1 at the season ending Super Series Masters Finals in Liuzhou, China, from Dec 14-18.
In Lin Dan’s absence, Chong Wei has won the Masters Finals for the past three years. But that fine record is in jeopardy as four-time world champion Lin Dan will finally be making his first appearance in the Masters Finals.
The World No. 2 won the China Open yesterday to confirm his place as the number three qualifier after the completion of the 12-leg Super Series.
Only the top eight qualifiers get to compete in the season finale which offers a total purse of US$500,000.
Lin Dan skipped the first two editions, in 2008 and 2009, because the tournament did not offer world ranking points and he did not see the need to make his presence felt. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) amended their rules last year and offered ranking points.
They even went one step further by making it compulsory for all the qualifiers to compete in the Finals. Unfortunately, Lin Dan did not finish among the top eight last year.
This year, the volatile 28-year-old has shown that he is back in business as far as bagging Super Series titles is concerned. He defeated Chong Wei en route to winning the last two legs in Hong Kong and China respectively.
Lin Dan’s victory over Chong Wei in the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Open spoiled the Malaysian’s exceptional record of reaching the final in all his previous 11 tournaments.
National singles coach Rashid Sidek said the Masters Finals would be a battle royale between Lin Dan and Chong Wei – a fitting finale to the year.
“Lin Dan will be trying to win it for the first time while Chong Wei will be out to keep his impeccable record in BWF’s premier event. It will be a thrilling season-ender for badminton fans,” said Rashid.
“We will make sure that Chong Wei is ready for this tournament,” he said.
Chong Wei and Lin Dan may meet one more time, prior to the Masters Finals, in the Macau Open if they live up to their billing as the number one and two seeds. But a final decision has not been made whether a tired Chong Wei should make the trip for the tournament which begins on Wednesday.
Besides Chong Wei, the only other Malaysian qualifiers for the Super Series Masters Finals are the top men’s doubles pair of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong.
The duo, however, will have a tough time as, apart from four-time world champions Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China and South Korea’s Jung Jae-sung-Lee Yong-dae, they may also have to face their nemeses Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Yeon-seong, to whom they have lost in all their last six meetings.
(Top eight qualifiers after 12 legs) MEN’S SINGLES: 1. Lee Chong Wei (Mas), 2. Chen Long (Chn), 3. Lin Dan (Chn), 4. Peter-Gade Christensen (Den), 5. Kenichi Tago (Jpn), 6. Sho Sasaki (Jpn), 7. Taufik Hidayat (Ina), 8. Simon Santoso (Ina).
MEN’S DOUBLES: 1. Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng (Chn), 2. Jung Jae-sung-Lee Yong-dae (Kor), 3. Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen (Den), 4. Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Yeon-seong (Kor), 5. Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (Mas), 6. Chai Biao-Guo Zhengdong (Chn), 7. Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata (Jpn), 8. Mohd Ahsan-Bona Septano (Ina).
WOMEN’S SINGLES: 1. Wang Yihan (Chn), 2. Wang Xin (Chn), 3. Juliane Schenk (Ger), 4. Saina Nehwal (Ind), 5. Tine Baun (Den), 6. Sayaka Sato (Jpn), 7. Sung ji-hyun (Kor), 8. Bae Youn-joo (Kor).
WOMEN’S DOUBLES: 1. Wang Xiaoli-Yu Yang (Chn), 2. Tian Qing-Zhao Yunlei (Chn), 3. Mizuki Fujii-Reika Kakiiwa (Jpn), 4. Ha Jung-eun-Kim Min-jung (Kor), 5. Shizuka Matsuo-Mami Naito (Jpn), 6. Cheng Wen-shing-Chien Yu-chin (Tpe), 7. Christinna Pedersen-Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den), 8. Poon Lok Yan-Tse Ying Suet (Hkg).
MIXED DOUBLES: 1. Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei (Chn), 2. Joachim Fischer Nielsen-Christinna Pedersen (Den), 3. Xu Chen-Ma Jin (Chn), 4. Chen Hung-ling-Cheng Wen-hsing (Tpe), 5. Tantowi Ahmad-Lilyana Natsir (Ina), 6. Sudket Prapakamol-T. Saralee (Tha), 7. Robert Blair-Gabrielle White (Sco-Eng), 8. Shintaro Ikeda-Reiko Shiota (Jpn).
(Note: This ranking is based on the calculation after 12 legs. There could be changes subject to players’ decision to withdraw)