JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Chen Long and Carolina Marin enjoyed contrasting semi-final victories on a good day for the top seeds and defending title holders at the badminton world championships on Saturday.
China's Chen has seized the mantle of the sport's most dominant player from compatriot Lin Dan since claiming a maiden world crown in Copenhagen a year ago and the 26-year-old appears in no mood to relinquish his title in Jakarta.
The lanky world No. 1 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.
Former junior world champion Momota was expected to provide the toughest of tests, yet despite claiming the shot of the match with a full-length dive to retrieve a smash in the second game, the 20-year-old was overwhelmed by Chen's power.
Facing Chen in Sunday's final will be Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, who set up a repeat of last year's title match with a impressive 21-7 21-19 victory over Danish second seed Jan Jorgensen.
Chen beat Lee 21-19 21-19 a year ago but the Malaysian was stripped of his silver medal after he tested positive for a banned steroid and is enjoying a solid return to form since his ban ended in May as he seeks an elusive world title.
Wily veteran Lee has topped the rankings for 298 weeks during his career yet remains without a global or Olympic title and will line up opposite the only man to beat him in singles competition this year in what promises to be a pulsating finale.
Marin, meanwhile, came through a war of attrition against Korea's Sung Ji Hyun to claim a 21-17, 15-21, 21-16 victory in a marathon encounter that ebbed and flowed through a series of momentum shifts.
The injury-prone Spaniard was a surprise champion as ninth seed a year ago but has since risen to the top of the rankings with a game built on confidence, athleticism and a never-say-die attitude.
Marin took the first game comfortably, stumbled in the second and appeared distracted in the decider as her exhausted opponent somehow forged a 13-8 lead when the Spaniard constantly floundered at the net.
Sensing her grip on the title was weakening, Marin summoned one last push against the flagging Sung and rode a 10-point surge of momentum into the final with a series of smashes and drop shots.
Marin will face Saina Nehwal in Sunday'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 seeds 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.
In the mixed doubles, defending champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei saved two match points before overcoming Indonesia's Tantowi Ahmad and Lilyana Natsir 20-22, 23-21, 21-12 to set up an all-Chinese final against Liu Cheng and Bao Yixin.
In the women's doubles, Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark, the fourth seeds, beat Japan's Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao 21-12, 21-15.