Lin Dan reaches China Open badminton final

Bill Marcus
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Lin Dan of China

Lin Dan of China hits a return to Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong in their men's singles second round match at the China Open badminton tournament in Shanghai. Lin Dan delighted home fans as he made it back-to-back victories against arch-rival and number one seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia to reach the men's singles final at the China Open

Third seed Lin Dan delighted home fans as he made it back-to-back victories against arch-rival and number one seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia to reach the men's singles final at the China Open.

"Today's match was more important for me (than tomorrow's final) as this match is potentially next year's Olympic games semi-finals or finals match," Lin said after his 19-21, 21-12, 21-11 win on Saturday.

"To be able to play at this level in front of the home crowd and being one game down was a great learning experience for me," he said.

It is Lin's second consecutive win against Lee after he beat him last Saturday at the Hong Kong Open.

"Lee Chong Wei is no doubt the best men's singles opponent I've played and this gives me extra motivation to raise my game each time I play against him," said Lin.

"The fact that I am playing at home and I'm the only Chinese player in this half of the draw motivates me to want to win this match."

The crowd at the Yuan Shen stadium cheered on Lee Chong Wei, but they exploded for Lin Dan during the 75-minute contest.

"My game was a lot better than how it was last week.... Today he was a lot faster in the second and third games and I couldn't keep up with his pace," said Lee.

Lin repeatedly followed shots slammed hard into the far court with another bringing Lee back to the net -- a tactic Lee was unable to counter, despite a spirited fight-back in the third game.

"Even though the scores were not as tight (as previous encounters) the process of the match was extremely tough. So I feel very happy to have won," said Lin.

He now faces second seed shuttler and teammate Chen Long, who ended Indonesian Simon Santoso's dream tournament earlier in the day with a hard-fought two-game win, 21-14, 21-14.

"Together with my coach I prepared for this match very thoroughly (to develop) the specific strategies to play against Simon," said Chen, who was watchful of the 11th-ranked Santoso after his giant-killing in early rounds.

Wang Xin pulled off a dramatic 55-minute semi-final women's singles victory over younger teammate Li Xuerui 15-21, 21-18, 23-21.

But she faced a tougher task than in four previous meetings with Li. The younger woman, who had never before taken a game from Wang, on Saturday came within a point of victory.

Wang said: "In the third game I was several points behind my opponent but I didn't want to give up so I caught up point by point.

"It wasn't good but I won the game so I was satisfied."

Wang is now set to face another team-mate, Wang Yihan, 23, in the finals. Wang Yihan will be making her first appearance in a China Open final after a nailbiting 73-minute semi-final victory over 11th-ranked Liu Xin 21-13, 19-21, 21-16.

At 10:43pm a public announcement told a groaning crowd that the last match of the night would be cancelled because women's doubles player and second seed Tian Qing had injured her right knee.

As a result Tang Jinhua and Xia Huan will meet first-seeded team Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang in Sunday's women's doubles finals.

Wang and Yu earlier dispensed with third seed Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa of Japan 21-13, 21-14, the fourth consecutive win for the Chinese women this year over the Japanese pair.

"I feel happy," said Yu, adding she had to take care not to injure herself during the match because the shuttle was fast and the floor was slippery.

A tournament official said the speed of the shuttle, tested before the afternoon play, was unchanged from previous days. No other players complained about the shuttlecock conditions, after some grumbles earlier in the week.

In men's doubles, the crowd was treated to a spectacle as third-seeded Danes Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen beat second seeded Koreans Jung Jae-Sung and Lee Yong-Dae 19-21, 23-21, 22-20 in 81 minutes.

Boe and Margensen will face fourth seeds Ko Sung-Hyun and Yoo Yeon-Seong in the final. Ko and Yoo advanced by racking up their third win of the year over Japanese shuttlers Naoki Kawamae and Shoji Sato in straight sets 21-12, 21-18.

The China Open in Shanghai is the last of 12 Super Series tournaments. Players are competing for $350,000 in prize money and points which will count towards a ranking that will enable them to compete next month at a finals competition in Liuzhou, China, December 14-18.