All England Open 2018: Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei could face off for the 40th time
What’s the story?
Two of the greatest badminton players of all time, Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei are on course to add another glorious chapter to their spectacular rivalry when the All England Open 2018 begins at Birmingham on March 14. The two have been drawn to meet each other in the quarter-finals.
In case you didn’t know
Both the legends have conquered the prestigious All England Open multiple times. The two-time Olympic gold-winning Lin Dan has laid hands on the trophy a whopping six times, with his latest title coming in 2016.
Lee Chong Wei is close behind with four titles. The three-time Olympic silver medallist unexpectedly won the title last year after recovering from a knee injury that he sustained while training. Having dropped hints that 2017 could be his last visit to Birmingham, the title win made him change his mind.
The heart of the matter
The 34-year-old Lin Dan and the 35-year-old Lee Chong Wei’s storied rivalry has captivated sports fans over the years. They have locked horns in the finals of every possible elite tournament in the sport that includes the Olympics, the World Championships as well as the All England Open.
The Chinese leads their head-to-head record 27-12 and has won both their meetings last year in straight games.
Now with both in the twilight of their careers, they may seem to be a fading force, but can still conjure up magic occasionally.
That was evident from Lee’s monumental effort at the All England Open in 2017, besides which he also reached the finals in four other events. Lin Dan too might have slid down the rankings, but showed his brilliance in his back-to-back title wins at the Swiss Open and the Malaysia Open. Other than these, he also made it to the summit clashes at the Badminton Asia Championships and the World Championships.
Before they can have their much-awaited face-off, Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei have to take care of a couple of opponents each. The second seeded Lee faces the 33rd ranked Ygor Coelho of Brazil, on beating whom he might have to cross swords with the former World No. 2 Jan O Jorgensen.
Meanwhile, the sixth seeded Lin Dan takes on World No. 21 Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus in his opener. After that, his possible second round opponent could be the 13th ranked Wang Tzu Wei.
Every badminton aficionado waits eagerly to see these two legends play each other. Their sterling quality of play, their exquisite shotmaking and their fighting spirit have always been a treat to watch.
With their retirements approaching, this might just be the last time we get to see them in a tournament of such a high level. Let us hope the badminton world is blessed with another instalment of their fabulous rivalry.Published 13 Mar 2018, 22:51 IST