FUZHOU (China) • Former badminton world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei picked up a first win over rival Lin Dan in three years after edging the double Olympic champion in the China Open semi-finals yesterday.
The Malaysian prevailed 17-21, 21-19, 21-19 to record his first triumph over the Chinese great since the 2012 Korea Open and set up a final against top-ranked Chen Long today.
"I've never beat Lin Dan in a competition in China before," said the 33-year-old. "Today I succeeded, and the victory is big boost for me."
Lin has often had the better of Lee when it matters most. The world No. 9 has lost two Olympic finals and two world championships to the Chinese superstar.
This result - at a US$700,000 (S$995,500) Superseries Premier event - improved his head-to-head record against Lin to 10-25.
In truth, there was little separating the duo. They played 118 points, each winning 59.
Lin looked in control at the start. He never trailed in the opener and was just four points from victory when he led the second 17-14. Lee responded by going on his best run, winning five consecutive points.
Lin levelled matters at 19-19, but could not close out the encounter.
The five-time world champion again led 4-0, 11-6, and 15-10 in the third, only to falter.
"It's a pity that when I took the lead in the first two games, I failed to seize the chances to win," said the 32-year-old after the 92-minute battle.
"When we played against each other, the quality of the match is always good. Today is no exception."
Malaysia's Lee is now just one win away from securing his second Superseries title this season, after serving an eight-month doping ban earlier this year.
Chen advanced to the final after blowing past South Korea's Son Wan Ho in straight sets, 21-11, 21-17.
In the women's draw, world No. 1 Saina Nehwal cruised past China's Wang Yihan 21-13, 21-18 in the semi-finals.
She next faces another Chinese in world No. 6 Li Xuerui.
Li entered the final after rolling past world No. 5 Wang Shixian 21-14, 21-5.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Finals: StarHub Ch201, 1pm