All-England: Confident Lin Dan, Peter-Gade give title contenders the chill

PETALING JAYA: The confidence and cool demeanour of Denmark’s Peter-Gade Christensen and China’s Lin Dan at the All-England badminton championships so far is sending shivers down the spine of their rivals in Birmingham.

And that does not bode well for world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, who is hoping to win his first All-England title.

On Thursday, Christensen showed that he was shaping up well in the tournament when he took only 36 minutes to dispose of Ng Wei of Hong Kong 21-11, 21-16 in the second round.

Second seed Lin Dan was just as clinical, making his compatriot Bao Chunlai look like a novice with a 21-14, 21-13 win in just 35 minutes.

Christensen’s next opponent will be former Olympic and world champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia, who stuttered to a 15-21, 21-15, 21-16 win in another second round match on Thursday.

The quarter-final match-up between Christensen and Taufik could go down to the wire depending on the Indonesian’s form.

So far Taufik, a two-time All-England runner-up, has been struggling to find his footing.

Beijing Olympic Games gold medallist Lin Dan, meanwhile, is strongly tipped to prevail over Joachim Persson of Denmark next.

Top seed Chong Wei, on the other hand, has had to slog for victory since the first round.

He was almost shown the exit but recovered in time to beat China’s Lu Yi and Germany’s Marc Zwiebler in the first and second rounds respectively.

He takes on Finland’s Ville Lang in the quarter-finals and should not have any problems making the last four.

Even national chief coach Rashid Sidek has been impressed with the fine form of Christensen and Lin Dan,

Rashid said Christensen was in fiery form while the three-month break had done wonders for Lin Dan.

The All-England is Lin Dan’s first tournament since winning the China Open in November.

“Only these two players have been impressive so far in the tournament. Their game is solid and their court control is superb,” said Rashid in a telephone interview yesterday.

“They have won the All-England title before and, probably, do not have much pressure on them. They seem to be enjoying themselves in every match.”

Christensen won the title in 1999 while Lin Dan is gunning for his fourth after winning it in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Chong Wei is expected to face the winner of the match between Christensen and Taufik in the semi-finals. And, barring any upsets, he should meet Lin Dan in the final.

“Chong Wei may be struggling to settle down but he is capable of beating these players.

“All he has to do is to stay focused and be confident in his own ability,” said Rashid.

Chong Wei is the only Malaysian men’s singles player left in the tournament following the tame 11-21, 12-21 defeat of Lee Tsuen Seng by Japan’s Sho Sasaki in the second round.

The challenges of Wong Choong Hann and Sairul Amar Ayob had ended in the opening round on Wednesday.

Men’s singles: Taufik Hidayat (Ina) bt Andrew Smith (Eng) 15-21, 21-15, 21-16; Sho Sasaki (Jpn) bt Lee Tsuen Seng (Mas) 21-11, 21-12; Peter-Gade Christensen (Den) bt Ng Wei (Hkg) 21-11, 21-16; Lin Dan (Chn) bt Bao Chunlai (Chn) 21-14, 21-13.

Men’s doubles: Mohd Ahsan-Bona Septano (Ina) bt Kasper Fausthenriksen-Christian John Skovgaard (Den) 12-21, 21-17, 21-14; Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng (Chn) bt Kwon Yi-goo-Yoo Yeong-seong (Kor) 21-13, 21-10; Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen (Den) bt Michael Fuchs-Ingo Kindervater (Ger) 21-18, 21-11; Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (Mas) bt Gan Teik Chai-Tan Bin Shen (Mas) 21-18, 21-14.

Matches involving Malaysians in other events

Women’s singles: Julia Wong bt Xu Huaiwen (Ger) 23-21, 15-21, 21-16.

Women’s doubles: Pan Pan-Qing Tian (Chn) bt Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty 21-16, 21-19.

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