Lin Dan a Win Away from Elusive Title

China’s Lin Dan, widely regarded as the best ever player in world badminton, goes in search of the only major title to elude him when he faces world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei in the men’s final at the Asian Games on Sunday.

On Saturday, three-time world champion Lin Dan easily crushed South Korea’s Park Sung-hwan 21-14, 21-10 to reach the gold medal match while Chong Wei outplayed world champion Chen Jin of China 14-21, 21-15, 21-7.

Lin Dan, who suffered a surprise loss to Sung-hwan at the World Championships three months ago, made sure there was no repeat performance as he tore into his opponents defence repeatedly with his deadly smashes and fast pace.

A delighted Lin Dan, who defeated Chong Wei to win the 2008 Olympic title, said: “I lost to Park in Paris but was on form today. I can’t wait to play Chong Wei as he is the world No. 1 and I will have to be at my best to beat him.”

Lin Dan and Chong Wei have met twice this year, with the Chinese winning in the Thomas Cup semi-final and Chong Wei winning in the Japan Open final.

Chong Wei, meanwhile, hopes to become the first Malaysian since Datuk Punch Gunalan 40 years ago to win the men’s singles gold medal.

The top seed had to stay cool in his match against the new world champion. He lost the first game 21-14 but switched tactics to a more patient game in the next two games and it paid dividends.

With Chen Jin playing to the gallery, Chong Wei picked his spots to score some valuable points. It was at 14-14 when Chong Wei pulled away, winning four points in a row. Chen Jin could only win another point before the All-England champion clinched the second game.

Lifted by the win, Chong Wei then turned on the style to blitz the world champion 21-7 to reach his first Asian Games final.

“This win came from my heart. There has been great pressure being the number one and losing in the team event earlier. But today, I made up for it by reaching the final,” said Chong Wei.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Shin Baek-cheol-Lee Hyo-jung stayed on course to win the men’s doubles title when they defeated China’s He Hanbin-Ma Jin 20-22, 21-18, 22-20. They will now play China’s Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei, who defeated Chen Hung Ling-Cheng Wen Hsing from Chinese Taipei, 21-16, 21-15.


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