INCHEON: It’s the match everyone is looking forward to and the Lee Chong Wei versus Lin Dan men’s singles semi-final showdown is on at the Incheon Asian Games.
But the 31-year-old Chong Wei nearly failed to fulfil his part of the deal. The top seed and world No. 1 struggled to get past Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam 21-23, 21-16, 21-17 in 75 minutes at Gyeyang Gymnasium on Saturday.
There were worried looks in the Malaysian camp as the unseeded Vietnamese caught up to level at 17-all in the deciding game.
Tien Minh was also very unlucky, twice he tried to beat Chong Wei at the net but on both occasions the shuttle hit the net cord and tumbled down on his own court. The Malaysian reeled off the next four to seal the quarter-final win.
Olympic champion Lin Dan, 30, had no trouble brushing aside Kenichi Tago of Japan 21-14, 21-18 to set up the latest instalment of one of badminton’s most fascinating rivalries.
Chong Wei confessed he was far from his best against Tien Minh.
“I did not play well today. The first game was point for point.
“Both of us were very tired, so I tried to raise the pace in the second game.
“Nguyen had nothing to lose and he threw everything he had.
“But it’s good for me to be challenged and knowing how to recover back to win the match,” said Chong Wei, who now has a chance to avenge his defeat to Lin Dan at the last Asiad in Guangzhou four years ago.
Chong Wei also lost to Lin Dan in their last two major final meetings – at the London Olympics in 2012 and the World Championships in Guangzhou last year.
“Before I went out on court to play Kenichi, I heard Lee Chong Wei telling Chinese reporters that he had nothing to lose against me. This is the same for me. I will go all out,” said the unseeded Lin Dan, who boasts a 22-9 record against Chong Wei.
Compatriot and world champion Chen Long also reached the semi-finals after beating Son Wan-ho of South Korea 21-16, 21-19. He will play Wei Nan of Hong Kong for a place in the final.
Malaysians Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong failed to make the colour of their medal a better one as they were tamed 6-21, 15-21 by South Korean top seeds Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Yeon-seong in the men’s doubles semi-finals.
V Shem-Wee Kiong will receive their bronze medal after Sunday’s men’s doubles final.