KUCHING: Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China, the two greatest badminton stars of this era, on Friday stormed into the finals of the Malaysia Open for an epic showdown.
Chong Wei, the world No. 1, inflicted a crushing 21-12, 21-9 defeat on helpless Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki in 39 minutes of play in his drive to win the tournament for the 12th time.
Despite a bandaged left knee, the 34-year-old Chong Wei deployed a combination of drop shots, killer smashes and accurate baseline hits to win the semi-finals game.
After making a phenomenal start this year by winning last month’s All England Open, the ageing Chong Wei on Monday said he still has plenty of firepower as he aims for the elusive World Championship title in August.
“Eleven years on, I’m back in the same stadium where I triumphed against Lin,” he told the reporters.
“The whole world has been waiting for another match between us after the (Rio) Olympics. I will give it my best, especially playing here in my home ground.”
The Malaysia Open began Tuesday in Kuching.
Earlier, Lin Dan, overcame stiff resistance from South Korea’s Son Wan Ho to triumph 27-25, 19-21, 21-16 in 84 minutes.
As the crowd cheered the 33-year-old Olympic champion’s magical court craft, Lin Dan in return removed his t-shirt to reveal his muscular torso, delighting spectators.
“The crowd support has been so warm here,” Lin Dan, who will play Chong Wei for the 36th time, told reporters.
“I am really happy to have a player like Chong Wei to compete (against). I am sure we will both put on a good show.”
Lin Dan has a 24-11 head-to-head advantage over Chong Wei, but the Malaysian triumphed in their last encounter at the Rio Olympics semifinals.
Lin Dan is regarded as the greatest badminton player in history owing to his five World championships and two Olympic gold medals.
But the Chinese star has never been able to win in Malaysia.
Lin Dan reached the final three times but was defeated by Chong Wei in 2005 and 2006 and by Chen Long in 2015.
In 2006, Lin Dan was one point away from the title as he led 20-13 in the deciding game, but Chong Wei staged a phenomenal comeback to win 23-21 in Kuching.