In probably their last ever showdown at the Olympics, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and China’s Lin Dan will meet at tonight in a mouth watering men’s singles semi-final at the Riocentro Pavilion 4 in Rio de Janeiro.
Badminton enthusiasts would loved to watch them in the final – like they did at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.
But in Rio, they will meet sooner than expected because of their seedings.
Chong Wei is the top seed and Lin Dan, the two-time Olympic champion, the third seed.
One thing is for sure. Matches between these two players have never been boring.
On paper, the 33-year-old Chong Wei is the favourite.
But who would bet against Lin Dan?
Chong Wei goes into Friday’s confrontation with the edge, having won both their last two meetings. He was victorious – both over three games – at the China Open last November and at the Asian Badminton Championships, also in China, in April.
But, in their head-to-head record, Lin Dan is way ahead at 25-11.
And, of the 36 meetings, 20 of their matches were played over three games.
It must be pointed out that showman Lin Dan is a better player at the biggies. Out of eight meetings in major championships – like the World Championships, All-England, Olympics and Asian Games – Lin Dan was victorious on seven occasions. Chong Wei only managed to pinch one – the 2011 All-England final.
There is also another drawback for Chong Wei – he has hardly been pushed in Rio.
He was in a three-man Group A, where he won the two matches in straight games. In the quarter-finals, he strolled past Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen 21-9, 21-15.
Lin Dan has had more game time, winning three matches in Group E in straight sets before being pushed to the limit by India’s K. Srikanth before prevailing 21-6, 11-21, 21-18 in 68 minutes in the last eight.
“I did generally well today (Wednesday). In the first game, I was pretty focused. But in the second and third games, there were some issues. I didn’t play with the best strategy, but, in the end, I came through,” said Lin Dan after his quarter-final win.
Chong Wei, however, is not thinking too much about the showdown.
“Of course, there is pressure. But I will focus on myself and concentrate on my own game. I’m not so tense now. I just want to enjoy myself.
“If you are in good condition and lose, you’ve got to accept that your opponent is better. But if you are tense and lose, it would be a big loss to yourself,” said Chong Wei, who lost to Lin Dan in the finals at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.
Asked what he would do on his rest day on Thursday, Chong Wei laughed.
“Mental training and training on my own,” he quipped.
He also said that he would love to see Tan Wee Kiong-Goh V Shem beat China’s Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan in the men’s doubles final on Friday to win Malaysia’s first-ever Olympic gold.
“It doesn’t matter who wins the gold. We are here as a team. A gold from anybody is good for Malaysia,’’ said Chong Wei.
The other men’s singles semi-final is just a sideshow with Chen Long of China against Dane Viktor Axelsen.
Two-time world and All-England champion Chen Long, the second seed, slogged to a 21-11, 18-21, 21-11 win over South Korean Son Wan-ho while Axelsen outplayed Britain’s Rajiv Ouseph 21-12, 21-16.
The men’s singles final is on Sunday – the last day of the Rio Olympics.
Source -The Star Online-