WUHAN (China) • Home favourite Lin Dan got past Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei rather comfortably in the semi-finals of the Badminton Asia Championships yesterday.
Lee beat Lin at the same stage in last year's event on his way to the title, but the Chinese player had his tail up as he had prevailed over the Malaysian in the final of the Malaysia Open earlier this month.
When the world's most popular shuttlers clashed again after just 20 days, Lin had a surprisingly easy 21-13, 21-15 win over his old rival.
Lin took an early lead in the opening game and was 12-6 ahead before Lee came back into the game. But the Malaysian could not put up a fight and lost the game.
The world No. 1 continued to make mistakes in the second game, gifting Lin a 13-8 lead. Fans at the Wuhan Sports Centre cheered both players, but Lee could not find his rhythm and lost tamely in 52 minutes.
"I think Lin was faster and in top form, while I was extremely passive," said Lee. "I could not catch up with his rhythm and some of my shots were not so accurate."
Lin said he had prepared well for the match. "No matter if it is the Olympics, World Championships or Grand Prix, as long as it is against Lee, I will spare no effort.
"I'm so proud that the match between Lee and me always attracts numerous fans and media around the world. We are now 34 and 35 years old, but we can still remain at the top level of men's singles. I think that is a lot of effort from us."
Lin deflected talk about playing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"Currently the most important thing for me is to make a whole year or half-year competition schedule," the world No. 8 said. "To avoid illness is also important."
Lin will take on compatriot Chen Long in today's final after the Rio Olympic champion eased past another Chinese Shi Yuqi, 21-19, 21-15 in the other semi-final yesterday.
In the women's singles, Tai Tzu-ying had little trouble beating South Korea's Lee Jang Mi 21-8, 21-16. The top seed from Chinese Taipei will face Japan's Akane Yamaguchi in the final after the second seed held firm in a tense finish to prevail over China's He Bingjiao 21-15, 21-19.
Finals: Singtel TV Ch110, 1pm