Lee, Lin to battle in Malaysia Open finals

World No. 1 Lee (above) inflicted a crushing 21-12, 21-9 defeat on Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki in 39 minutes.
World No. 1 Lee (above) inflicted a crushing 21-12, 21-9 defeat on Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki in 39 minutes.PHOTO: AFP

KUCHING, Malaysia (AFP) - Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China, the two greatest badminton stars of this era, stormed into the finals of the Malaysia Open for an epic showdown.

Lee, the world No. 1, inflicted a crushing 21-12, 21-9 defeat on helpless Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki in 39 minutes of play on Saturday (April 8) in his drive to win the tournament for the 12th time.

Despite a bandaged left knee, the 34-year-old Lee deployed a combination of drop shots, killer smashes and accurate baseline hits to win the semi-finals game.

After making a phenomenal start this year by winning last month's All England Open, the ageing Lee on Monday said he still has plenty of firepower as he aims for the elusive World Championship title in August.

"Eleven years on, I'm back in the same stadium where I triumphed against Lin," he told the reporters.

"The whole world has been waiting for another match between us after the (Rio) Olympics. I will give it my best, especially playing here in my home ground."

The Malaysia Open began on Tuesday in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak state on Borneo island.

Earlier, Lin, overcame stiff resistance from South Korea's Son Wan Ho to triumph 27-25, 19-21, 21-16 in 84 minutes.

As the crowd cheered the 33-year-old Olympic champion's magical court craft, Lin in return removed his T-shirt to reveal his muscular torso, delighting spectators.

"The crowd support has been so warm here," Lin, who will play Lee for the 36th time, told reporters.

"I am really happy to have a player like Lee to compete (against). I am sure we will both put on a good show."

Lin has a 24-11 head-to-head advantage over Lee, but the Malaysian triumphed in their last encounter at the Rio Olympics semifinals.

Lin is regarded as the greatest badminton player in history owing to his five World championships and two Olympic gold medals.

But the Chinese star has never been able to win in Malaysia.

Lin reached the final three times but was defeated by Lee in 2005 and 2006 and by Chen Long in 2015.

In 2006, Lin was one point away from the title as he led 20-13 in the deciding game, but Lee staged a phenomenal comeback to win 23-21 in Kuching.