By Dave Thompson
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – China's Lin Dan kept the flag flying for titleholders on a tumultuous quarter-finals day at the world badminton championships of Friday.
After men's doubles champions Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng of China and mixed doubles holders Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms of England relinquished their crowns within 40 minutes of each other, Lin steadied the ship in the men's singles.
The Chinese top seed scored a 22-20 21-9 victory over Anup Sridhar, the unseeded Indian who earlier in the week knocked out Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia.
Lin was joined in the semi-finals by compatriot Bao Chunlai, a 21-18 21-15 victor over Denmark's Kenneth Jonassen in a repeat of the 2006 final in Madrid.
In the other semi, Indonesia's Sony Dwi Kuncoro, who edged out Jonassen's better known compatriot Peter Gade 22-20 21-18, will play China's sixth seed Chen Yu, who beat Singapore's Ronald Susilo 21-14 21-16.
The fireworks had come in mid-afternoon when men's doubles sixth seeds Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah of Malaysia beat Cai and Fu 15-21 21-18 21-19.
Amid noisy scenes at the Putra Stadium, the Malaysians trailed 19-16 in the decider but swept to victory, winning the last five points in a row to the delight of a partisan crowd.
Choong and Lee, once world championship bronze medallists, are these days seen more as Malaysia's back-up to young second seeds Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong.
But they must go it alone after Koo and Tan suffered a 21-13 17-21 25-23 defeat by Japanese 16th seeds Shuichi Sakamoto and Shintaro Ikeda.
In an astonishing encounter, both sides saved two match points each before the Japanese prevailed, to the dismay of the home crowd.
Malaysia, seeking a first world title since the championships began in 1977, also had aspirations in the women's singles through Wong Mew Choo, who ousted defending champion Xie Xingfang on Thursday, and Commonwealth women's doubles champions Wong Pei Tty and Chin Ei Hui.
But it was not to be.
Wong failed to produce the magic of the previous night and went under 21-17 13-21 21-16 to fifth seed Zhu Lin of China while the doubles pair lost out 22-20 21-12 to China's third seeds Yang Wei and Zhang Jiewen.
So on Saturday, it all depends on the seasoned men's pair of Lee and Choong. Lee told a media conference: "We are just going to do what we have done for the last few days. We are not under pressure, we will just fight."
In the mixed doubles, a 21-13 21-16 defeat for England's Robertson and Emms at the hands of Indonesian sixth seeds Flandy Limpele and Vita Marissa came hard on the heels of a loss for friends and compatriots Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg.
They succumbed to third-seeded Chinese pair Xie Zhongbo and Zhang Yawen 21-13 21-10 and there was also defeat for 16th seed Tracey Hallam in the women's singles, beaten 21-11 21-9 by Olympic champion Zhang Ning.
In Madrid last year, England enjoyed a stellar championships, coming home with a gold and two silvers.