Lin Dan ends Lee Chong Wei's All England title defense

ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 17, 2018 08:21 AM
Lin Dan ends Lee Chong Wei's All England title defense
FILE - A Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 file photo of two-time Olympic champion, Lin Dan of China returning a shot to Ihsan Maulana Mustofa of Indonesia during the first round of the men's singles match in the 2018 Malaysia Masters badminton tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Sadiq Asyraf, File)

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Lin Dan underlined his renewed determination to win the All England Championships for a seventh time with a fluent and at times brilliant performance which ended the title defense of rival Lee Chong Wei on Friday.

The 34-year-old Chinese left-hander overcame the 35-year-old champion from Malaysia 21-16, 21-17 in the quarterfinals in a 40th encounter between the badminton greats which did not disappoint.

Chong Wei moved superbly as ever, tried to mix up the patterns, and led 16-15 in the first game and 13-10 in the second. Both times, however, Lin found something unusual, an explosive change of pace or a sudden smash, and when the death points came in each game he finished them immediately.

"We both played quite well," Lin said as if better were to come. "It's a great tournament, and he is one of the great competitors, so this is superb."

Chong Wei tried to attack Lin whenever possible to nullify his great rival's unique attacking threat but the effect was temporary.

"I will move forward," he said. "There are a lot of competitions to come."

Whether he will return next year to try for a fifth title remains in doubt.

Earlier, both Olympic singles champions were beaten.

Chen Long's 21-10, 21-17 loss to fellow Chinese player Shi Yuqi was nominally a surprise but Carolina Marin's 21-15, 21-18 defeat to Akane Yamaguchi, the world superseries title-winner from Japan, was more expected.

Chen made his first loss to his younger compatriot in five matches sound preordained: "I am happy that whoever wins this match will go to the semifinals for Team China," he said.

"I often train with him and we are friends, but every time we played before he won," said Shi, the All England runner-up last year.

In the semifinal he faces fifth-seeded Son Wan Ho of South Korea.

Yamaguchi was fast, tenacious, and clever at getting the match played in the mid-court and forecourt. Marin tried to use lifts and clears to create openings for sliced overheads and steep attacks, and the Spaniard even led 18-16 in the second game, but was frustrated by Yamaguchi.

Yamaguchi will play Pusarla Sindhu, the fourth-seeded Indian, who reversed the outcome of the women's final at the world championships in Glasgow in August by recovering from a four-point, final-game deficit against Nozomi Okuhara, the seventh-seeded Japanese, to win 20-22, 21-18, 21-18.

Sindhu was given a yellow card for taking too long to serve five rallies before the end of the match, and completed her revenge only after a tense last pause when Okuhara summoned a video replay to see whether or not Sindhu's winning kill on match point landed on the line.

The other women's semifinal will be between Tai Tzu-ying, the top-seeded titleholder from Taiwan, and Chen Yufei, the eight-seeded Chinese player.

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