Lin to take on Chen in all-Chinese title clash

Xie Xingfang faces Lan Lu in womens final

China’s Lan Lu in action during her semifinal win over Lin Wang at the World Badminton Championship on Saturday. DH Photo/ Kishor Kumar Bolar

In one of the most absorbing matches of the tournament so far, defending champion Lin Dan overcame a tenacious Sony Dwi Kuncoro 21-14, 13-21, 21-15 to move into the men’s final at the Gachibowli stadium on Saturday. After an energy-sapping match that lasted just over an hour, the world number five kept his tryst with history.

Champion at the Worlds over the last two years, Lin has a chance to become the first shuttler to claim gold three times in a row. For that, Lin will have to overcome one more hurdle in world number two Chen Jin, who didn’t face much trouble during his semifinal win over Taufik Hidayat.

It was a battle between Lin’s attacking prowess and Sony’s watertight defence as the match witnessed breathtaking rallies, smart dribbles and stunning smashes. In the end, though, it was Lin’s youthful exuberance that prevailed over Sony’s waiting game. Lin was particularly strong at the net and collected a sizeable chunk of points tapping the shuttle in Sony’s court with his quick reflexes.

After winning the first game with relative ease, Lin was caught on the wrong foot in the second as the Indonesian succeeded in pushing the Chinese to the back of the court. As a result, Lin committed a number of unforced errors and Sony grabbed the opportunity to win the game and push the match into decider.   

The final game was a repeat of the first and Lin’s endurance got the better of a tiring Sony. “I wasn’t as good as I was yesterday. Sony’s more mature and very patient. He limited my ability to finish off the game early,” admitted Lin. He was happy that the gold was assured for China. “It doesn’t matter who wins tomorrow’s match so long as the gold is assured for China,” Lin added. It was the end of the road for the Indonesian maverick Hidayat. The world number four, the most popular here among foreign players, looked out of sorts against Chen, falling 16-21, 9-21. Hidayat had his moments, but against a younger and more agile rival, he couldn’t last the distance. 

“Jin had more power, he was quicker and he had the answer to all my shots,” Hidayat made a candid admission later.

Chen, an admirer of Hidayat, said his strategy was not to allow his opponent to play to his strengths. “I didn’t give him many chances at the net, because I knew he is good at it,” said Chen. Lin’s partner Xie Xingfang made it to the women’s final, beating Pi Hongyan of France 21-18, 21-8. Xingfang is also on the cusp of history as the Chinese world number five will become the first woman to win the gold for the third time. She will take on compatriot seventh seed Lu Lan, who struggled past another Chinese Wang Lin 21-18, 21-19. While the Chinese mixed doubles teams failed to progress beyond the quarters, their men’s doubles team of Cheng Shu and Zhao Yunlei stormed into the title round where they will take on the Korean pair of Jung Jae Sung and LeeYong Dae, 16-21, 21-14, 22-20 winners over Malaysians Koo Kien Keat and Heong Boon. 

The second-seeded Indonesian pair Widianto Nova and Natsir Liliyana were involved in a long-drawn 21-18, 14-21, 21-18 battle with Denmark’s Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen in the mixed doubles semifinal. In the final, the Indonesians will face Denmark’s Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, who put out LeeYong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung 18-21, 21-9, 21-18.

DH News Service

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