Fuzhou: In the latest “badminton classic” played by two of the greatest badminton players of all time, Lee Chong Wei beat Lin Dan 17-21, 21-19, 21-19 on Saturday afternoon to move into the China Open finals.
The 35th encounter between Lee and Lin on Saturday didn’t just feel like a battle for a berth in a China Open final, but also the culmination of one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the sport.
Lee got off to a slow start and dug himself too deep a hole to trail 1-7 and 6-13 against Lin early in the first set. Lee was on the verge of levelling the score when he narrowed the gap to just 14-15, but Lin Dan quickly reestablished himself and moved ahead to seal the first set with 21-17.
The second set was a test of wills as Lee Chong Wei went toe-to-toe with a defiant Lin Dan and the score was tied up on seven occasions. Lee then re-composed himself and sparked a surge towards the end of the game by reeling off two points to take the second set 21-19 and forced a decider.
The crowd pretty much thought the match was all over with a guaranteed victory for Lee Chong Wei when he was leading at 19-16 over Lin in the decider, until he started to make some unforced errors to allow Lin Dan to claw back at 19-19. Fortunately, Lee stayed calm under pressure to claim the next two points to seal a nerve-wracking win. The victory helped Lee snapped a 5 match losing streak against Lin Dan and further improved Lee’s head-to-head record against Lin to 10-25.
Lee will face a stern test against No. 1 seed Chen Long in the men’s finals on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Chen Long who was playing some of the best badminton of his career, defeated Son Wan Ho of Korea 21-11, 21-17 in another semi-finals as he set up a mouthwatering men’s final clash with Lee.
Ko Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Cheol failed to create an all-Korean men’s doubles final on Sunday after they were sent packing by No. 6 seeds Chai Biao/Hong Wei of China, losing 15-21, 19-21. Nevertheless, their compatriots Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang pulled off an upset in the men’s doubles semis to stun No. 5 seeds Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa 21-17, 21-18 to advance to the final.
Here are another 3 final match-ups on Sunday:
No. 1 Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Japan) vs. Tang Yuanting/Yu Yang (China)
No. 1 Saina Nehwal (India) vs. No. 6 Li Xuerui (China)
No. 1 Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (China) vs. No. 5 Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen (Denmark)