KUCHING • An epic showdown is on the cards at badminton's Malaysia Open today, with world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei taking on his arch-rival Lin Dan in the men's singles final.
Malaysian Lee, the top seed, is gunning for his 12th Malaysia Open title, while seventh-seeded Lin of China is going for his first.
Lee crushed Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki 21-12, 21-9 in 39 minutes. Despite a bandaged left knee, the 34-year-old Malaysian deployed a combination of drop shots, killer smashes and accurate baseline hits to win the semi-final.
The Hong Konger had an easy passage into the semi-finals, after Olympic champion Chen Long withdrew from the quarter-finals after injuring his right wrist on Friday.
Chen is the top draw at this week's OUE Singapore Open and it is not known how serious his injury is and if he will be fit to play.
Earlier yesterday, five-time world champion Lin, 33, had to use his vast experience and power to beat fifth seed Son Wan Ho of South Korea 27-25, 19-21, 21-16 to reach the final. It was an energy-sapping 1hr 24min encounter.
Lin has a 24-11 head-to-head advantage over Lee, but the Malaysian triumphed in their last encounter at the Rio Olympics' semi-finals.
The Chinese star has never been able to win in Malaysia. He reached the final three times but was defeated by Lee in 2005 and 2006 and by Chen 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.
"Lin Dan and I are back at the same stadium after 11 years and in the final again. It's our first final after the Olympic Games in Rio," said Lee, 34, yesterday. "Lin Dan is in good form but I'll give my best to win my 12th Malaysia Open title."
Top seed Tai Tzu-ying entered the women's final following a 20-22, 21-13, 21-12 win over South Korea's third seed Sung Ji Hyun.
The Taiwanese will next face Spain's Olympic champion Carolina Marin, who beat Japan's Nozomi Okuhara 23-21, 21-19.
BERNAMA, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Finals: StarHub Ch203, 1 pm