Lee Chong Wei upset world No. 1 Lin Dan yesterday, but it proved futile as defending champions China crept past Malaysia 3-2 and into the Thomas Cup final.
The odds were stacked against Malaysia, with China the dominant world force, boasting some of the best players in the world.
But the fans sensed an upset when world No. 2 Lee won the battle of the big guns against an out-of-sorts Lin in the first singles rubber.
Lee rattled through the first set in just 15 minutes before sealing the temperamental Chinese star’s fate 21-12, 21-14.
Order was restored by doubles world No. 2 Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng, who held their nerve against the spirited Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong to win 21-16, 21-17.
And the wheel spun in China’s favor when world No. 3 Bao Chunlai proved too good for Malaysian captain Wong Choong Hann, who crashed 21-18, 21-7 to put the tie within reach.
But Malaysia’s strong point is doubles and Muhammad Zakry Abdul Latif and Muhammad Fairuzizuan Muhammad Tazari forced the tie into a thrilling finale by beating Xie Zhongbo and Guo Zhendong.
With China’s reputation at stake, Chen Jin stepped up to the mark to outgun Muhammad Hafiz Hashim and ensure they remain on track for a third straight title, with either Indonesia or South Korea awaiting them in tomorrow’s final.
“Whatever the score, as long as we are in the final I am happy,” said China coach Li Yongbo, adding that Lin losing was always a possibility. “If Lin had won then maybe the score would have been 3-0, but Chong Wei played very well so he deserved to win.”
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