Badminton: Lee beats Lin slayer to reach Hong Kong Open final

Lee (above) took 46 minutes to dismiss Ng 21-19, 21-14.
Lee (above) took 46 minutes to dismiss Ng 21-19, 21-14.AFP

HONG KONG (AFP) - Former world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei beat giant-slayer Angus Ng - who downed Chinese badminton legend Lin Dan in the second round - to net a place in his third consecutive Super Series final at the Hong Kong Open on Saturday.

The Malaysian, who has been a dominant force on the badminton circuit for nearly a decade, took 46 minutes to dismiss Ng 21-19, 21-14.

The twenty-one-year-old Hong Konger beat Lee's long-time nemesis Lin, making him an overnight hometown hero.

Ng managed to gain a three point lead over Lee in the first set, darting across the court to return some of the Malaysian's trickiest shots.

But despite having a packed home crowd stadium behind him, the youngster was unable to slay his second giant of the tournament as the veteran made quick work of the second set.

"It is very hard to lead 18-15 to the best men's singles player in the world, so I relaxed a bit too much at the (end of the first set) and (then) I end up loosing the first set," said Ng.

The result is still the youngster's best result at a Super Series tournament, and his more experienced opponent was full of praise, describing Ng as "a future star".

"Ka Long played very well because he played at home and he is very speedy," said Lee using Ng's Chinese name.

"The first set I lost a lot, I made very simple mistakes and then I had to play very aggressively for the game."

The Malaysian will face Chinese world No. 10 Tian Houwei in the final, after he beat little-known qualifier Ginting Anthony of Indonesia 18-21, 21-11, 21-6.

Lee is on a winning streak after taking back-to-back titles in China and France as he has made a strong comeback to the circuit following an eight-month doping ban earlier this year.

His recent performances have silenced critics who questioned whether the 33-year-old was past his peak, and he has his sights firmly set on next year's Olympics and finally clinching gold.

Lee has two silver medals - from London and Beijing - where on both occasions he was beaten to the top podium position by arch-rival Lin.

In the women's competition, two-time world champion Carolina Marin of Spain beat Chinese former world No. 1 Wang Yihan for a place in the finals.

The current world No. 1 dismissed Yihan in straight sets 21-18, 21-16 taking her a step closer to her sixth big title of the year.

Marin fell in the semi-finals at last year's Hong Kong Open, but has had a strong 2015, defending her World Championship title in August and shooting up the rankings from number eight to one.

"A lot of things I (have) changed in my game, in my mind and, of course, how I see the tournament - that I want to win the title," Marin said after she booked a place in her eighth final of the season.

"I think the important thing is I keep my focus on all my training. This is the key of my game." Marin will face ninth seed Nozomi Okuhara of Japan - who beat Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon 26-24, 21-6 - in Sunday's final.

Okuhara downed Marin in the semi-finals of last year's Hong Kong Open, but then failed to take the title.