Rio de Janeiro: At last, the most anticipated epic battle between World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China on Friday has proven to be yet another all-time classic in the history of Olympic men’s singles semi-final.
After losing to Lin Dan in the men’s singles final at 2012 London and 2008 Beijing Olympics, top seed Lee held off an incredible fightback from Lin to advance to the Olympic final and to end the Chinese star’s reign at the Olympics.
Lin Dan surged to a quick 6-2 lead and dominating Lee at the net to take the first set 21-15.
After some advice from coaches, Lee played with more power, and a lot of precision to open up a 9-2 advantage before Lin realized that he had dug himself into a very deep hole. Lee then made several outstanding drop shots to push World No. 3 Lin Dan running around the court to retrieve the shots. Lin was able to narrow the gap by coming back from 4-15 to 11-19. Lee then was able to score the winner with a smash to the open court to take the second set 21-11.
In the nail-biting decider, the men went toe-to-toe, neither were able to mount a major advantage where there was never more than two points difference between them until Lee went up with 19-16. Trailing 17-20, Lin managed to haul back with truly awesome defenses and aggressive attacks to force deuce at 20-20.
Twice-bitten Lee Chong Wei determined that history would not repeat itself as he took a firm grip on the tie-break by winning the next two points to cruise into the Olympic final by clinching the rubber-set 22-20.
Lee will play China’s World No. 2 Chen Long for gold after Chen defeated Denmark’s No. 4 seed Viktor Axelsen 21-14, 21-15 in the other men’s singles semi-final.