Malaysia Open: Lee Chong Wei sets up dream final with Lin Dan
The $600,000 Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open Superseries Premier got its highly-anticipated final when badminton legends Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei both won their respective semi-finals at Kuching, Malaysia on Saturday. The top seed Lee blew away the World No. 12 Wong Wing-ki Vincent 21-12, 21-9 in just 40 minutes to continue the successful defence of his title.
Lin Dan, Lee's biggest rival, had a far tougher path to the summit clash and needed 1 hour 24 minutes to subdue the fifth-seeded Son Wan Ho.
In an extremely competitive match, the Chinese icon eked out the first game 27-25 only to see the Korean coming back to clinch the second, 21-19. The two-time Olympic champion finally staved off the surging Son’s challenge to pull off the 27-25, 19-21, 21-16.
First meeting after epic Olympic clash
Thus the two ageless shuttlers will reprise one of the greatest rivalries in the sporting world as they take on each other for the title. This will be the first time that they are locking horns since their epic semi-final clash at the Rio Olympics in August where Lee narrowly edged the Chinese, 15-21, 21-11, 22-20.
It is the former World No. 1 and the currently sixth-ranked Lin Dan who has the upper hand in this rivalry and leads the head-to-head, 24-11. But the Malaysian is the one who has won their last three meetings and should be favoured given his current form and his familiarity with the conditions.
Lee won his fourth All England Championships title just last month and that was definitely a statement ahead of this big clash. Lin too has come to this tournament on the back of winning the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold in March.
It is interesting to note that even though the dynamics of their rivalry has changed of late, their last three encounters have all gone the distance. While Lin will be huingry for the title that he has never won in his long, illustrious career, Lee will be seeking a staggering 12th crown at this tournament.
Marin vs Tai for the women’s singles title
On the women’s side, former champions Tai Tzu Ying and Carolina Marin set up quite an enthralling final. The World No. 1 Tai will be aiming to continue her mastery after reigning supreme at the All England Championships this year. The Olympic champion Marin, meanwhile, reached her second Superseries final in as many weeks as she looks to climb her way back to the top echelons.