BIRMINGHAM • Olympic champion Lin Dan engineered a notable victory over Jan Jorgensen, the third seed, to reach the semi-finals of the All England Open championships with an ominously brilliant 10-21, 21-9, 21-15 win.
After turning the match around, the Chinese was completely on top before the Dane injected a little late respectability into the scoreline.
Lin's subtle manoeuvring and subtly disguised shots - the product of clever tactical insights - as well as the margin of the success, offered an indication of how much his preparations for the Olympics in Rio may already have raised his standard.
The win was atonement for a loss to Jorgensen in the quarter-finals of the World Championships in Jakarta seven months ago, when Lin was well beaten in straight games.
This time, after just a few points of the second game, there was little doubt that he would prevail.
INSIGHT PAYS OFF
I took time to analyse Jorgensen's game after that defeat. I tried to find better ways of beating him. I really like the way he plays - it's aggressive and he can apply a lot of pressure - but this was a good experience for me after the first game.
LIN DAN, on learning from his loss to Jan Jorgensen in their previous encounter at last year's World Championships.
"I took time to analyse Jorgensen's game after that defeat," Lin said.
"I tried to find better ways of beating him. I really like the way he plays - it's aggressive and he can apply a lot of pressure - but this was a good experience for me after the first game."
The win also suggested that even at the age of 32 and despite very few titles in the past three years, Lin may well be good enough to challenge for a third Olympic gold in August.
"I'm no longer young, but I still enjoy the competition and the feeling of that," he said. "I'm really excited with the win."
Having secured the victory, he is surely now the unofficial favourite for his sixth All England title.
Chen Long, the title holder, and Lee Chong Wei, the former world No. 1, have both been beaten.
Lin next plays Chen's conqueror, Xue Song, who played another fine match to cause an upset for the second successive day, beating Danish sixth seed Viktor Axelsen 21-19, 21-23, 21-11.
Another notable exit was that of the second-seeded Saina Nehwal, the former world No. 1 and last year's runner-up in the women's singles.
She looked below her best during a 15-21, 6-21 loss to Tai Tzu-ying, a former Super Series finals winner, but this was not entirely surprising.
Nehwal had lost six of her seven previous matches against the Taiwanese player, and is only just finding her way back after a lengthy injury break.
"There are a lot of tournaments to come in which I can play well and it's still a long time before the Olympics," the Indian said.
"I don't really think this is a surprise," said Tai.
"I've done well against her before."
She has a semi-final against Wang Shixian, the former All-England champion from China, who beat compatriot Li Xuerui, the Olympic champion, 16-21, 21-18, 21-17 with a surge which won her the last four points.
Unlike Nehwal, the top-seeded Carolina Marin overcame a jinx, ending a sequence of four losses in four matches against Ratchanok Intanon.
The top-seeded defending champion from Spain beat the former world champion from Thailand 21-17, 21-19, finding ways to prevent her talented opponent from imposing sudden ambushes and changes of direction on the rallies.
"I think this is my best match so far. I spent a lot of time preparing for it," said Marin.
"I'm very happy with my performance and I really want to win this title."
Finals: StarHub Ch201, 8pm