China’s badminton superstar Lin Dan booked a place in the semi-finals of the world championships yesterday after overcoming teammate and second seed Chen Long.
The players were given a rapturous reception at the Tianhe gymnasium in Guangzhou, with the home crowd cheering loudly for both as they came on court.
The first game saw defending champion “Super Dan” and his 24-year-old rival trade point for point, drawing on an armory of high lifts, smashes and subtle drop shots. However, the game started to go Lin’s way after he leapt high in the air to drive home a smash to go up 13-10. On the next point Chen’s return sat on the net and refused to drop, gifting Lin — widely recognized as the best player of all time — a four-point lead.
A rampant Lin, 30, went on to take the first game 21-13 before slipping behind at the start of the second, but reigning All-England champion Chen failed to capitalize.
An enthralling encounter went down to the wire with a run of deuce scores until Chen sent his final shot into the net as Lin took the game 22-20, the younger player throwing down his racket in frustration.
“I’m not too disappointed with my performance, but I could have had a better end of the second game,” Chen said after the match. “There were several points I really had to win, but I didn’t. Maybe I have to be more aggressive.”
Lin paid tribute to his teammate, saying that he was a star of the future.
“We both had excellent performances — even if one doesn’t win, it doesn’t mean he didn’t perform well,” he said.
“Chen Long is very young, he will only be 28 in Rio [for the 2016 Olympics], which is a great age for a badminton player,” he said.
Lin’s clash with Chen, who is widely tipped as successor to his crown as China’s top player, was his toughest of the competition so far.
Lin, the four-time world champion and one of China’s biggest sports stars, has been on the sidelines for most of the past year to spend time with his family. His form was a mystery until the start of the tournament.
Meanwhile, No. 3 seed Du Pengyu of China beat India’s Kashyap Parupalli, the 13th seed, 16-21, 22-20, 21-15 to earn his semi-final place.
In the women’s singles top seed Li Xuerui proved too good for sixth seeded Taiwanese Tai Tzu-ying, winning their quarter-final 27-25, 21-13.
South Korea’s Bae Yeon-ju sprung a surprise, the No. 13 seed defeating third seeded Saina Nehwal of India 23-21, 21-9.
There was more disappointment for Taiwanese player in the men’s doubles with Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia beating Lee Sheng-mu and Tsai Chia-hsin of Taiwan 21-14, 21-18.
Additional reporting by staff writer