JAKARTA • Just three months after his return from a doping ban, Malaysian badminton star Lee Chong Wei stands on the brink of a maiden world championship crown.
The unseeded former world No. 1, whose ranking has plummeted in the eight months he was suspended, claimed an impressive 21-7, 21-19 victory over Danish second seed Jan Jorgensen in last night's semi-final.
The 32-year-old faces top- ranked Chen Long in a repeat of last year's title match in Copenhagen, which the lanky Chinese won 21-19, 21-19.
The 26-year-old Chen has seized the mantle of the sport's most dominant player from compatriot Lin Dan since claiming his victory in the Danish capital a year ago and he appears in no mood to relinquish his title in Jakarta.
He was simply too quick and strong for Japanese fourth seed Kento Momota as he raced through to the final in less than an hour with a dominant 21-9, 21-15 triumph.
Spain's Carolina Marin, who almost did not make the tournament owing to injury, also earned the chance to retain her women's world title.
She staged a gripping comeback against South Korea's Sung Ji Hyun to book a second-straight final appearance. The top seed and defending champion screamed in triumph as she emerged victorious after a 90-minute battle over Sung 21-17, 15-21, 21-16.
She trailed Sung in the third game 8-13 before rallying, taking 10 unanswered points in a fiery comeback that left her Korean opponent spinning.
Said the 22-year-old European champion: "Today I was nervous and sometimes I was angry with myself because I wasn't thinking about what I had to do, I was thinking about the score. That made me angrier with myself."
She will face Saina Nehwal in today's final after the second seed survived a valiant effort from local hope Lindaweni Fanetri to secure a 21-17, 21-17 victory as she seeks to become the first Indian to claim a world title.
The 29th-ranked Fanetri had beaten three seeded players on her way to the last four but her heavily- strapped right knee buckled several times during the match and a noisy Istora Senayan crowd was unable to carry her past the ruthlessly efficient Nehwal.
But the Indian shuttler rated it her toughest match of the tournament so far, with her every error triggering thunderous applause as the arena rallied behind their champion.
"Most of the points I gave up because of the pressure I was taking," Nehwal told reporters. "I was not relaxed."
For a second year in a row, it will be an all-Chinese affair in the final of the mixed doubles.
Top-ranked pair Zhang Nang and Zhao Yunlei defeated resilient Indonesian duo Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir 20-22, 23-21, 21-12, while fourth-seeded Chinese pair Liu Cheng and Bao Yixin beat their second-seeded compatriots Xu Chen and Ma Jin 21-13, 15-21, 21-19.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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