By Raphael Sachetat, live from Shanghai. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)
There was some excitement going on around the Pudong Yuan Shen Stadium, at least for an hour before the session kicked off, whilst the night had already fallen on Shanghai. Black market was filling the streets nearby where tickets for the semi-finals were sold. The stadium, however, was not filled up even if good numbers had showed up – considering the ticket price of 200 RMD (US$25) or above.
But it didn’t matter. For local people, it was the unique opportunity to see Lin Dan (photo) and Lee Chong Wei fight for the 28th time, Lin Dan having won a whopping 19 of the previous 27 including, of course, the wins that matter – in the Olympics, Asian Games, and World Championships. And most recently – last week – in Hong-Kong.
Chong Wei (photo) went into the match very focused, avoiding putting too much speed into the rallies at first. On an impressive cross-court defence, he left Lin Dan one meter away from the bouncing shuttle and 3 points behind at 4-7, while the spectators were whispering their surprise. The Malaysian – who has not been beaten this year by any other player than Lin Dan and Chen Long – took the lead 11-8 for the first break.
Then it was all a demonstration of badminton, with most of the shots in the book, in more of a defensive mode on each side of the net. The first game was taken by Lee Chong Wei 21-19 and greeted with a huge silence. After some good advices from Xia Xuanze – who had played Lee Chong Wei in his heyday – Super Dan came back on court with a more aggressive spirit, which gave him a 6 point advantage at the interval, a lead he kept and extended, to take the second game 21-12 with a wide variety of shots amongst which some fast drops and down-the-line attacks.
One Dan show
The third game was somehow similar to the second, Lin Dan being in charge, to the public’s delight, from start to finish. His wife Xie Xingfang (photo) was there in the stands, hoping fate would repeat itself and that her hero would come away as the winner again. Some amazing rallies saw Chong Wei score some points, but the Chinese clearly had the upper hand over Chong Wei this time. And once again, he would get away with a victory – his 20th over Chong Wei – with a final score of 19-21, 21-12, 21-11 in 1h, 16 minutes of play.
“Recently I have taken part in so many tournaments that my energy burnt out a bit in the second and third games while Lin moved faster than I did. I’m satisfied with my performance today. It was a lot better than the Hong-Kong semi-final. Losing or wining doesn’t bother me. To know why I lost means more. Lin Dan can defend and attack well so I have to be patient enough to play against him,” said the Malaysian.
Lin Dan was still all praise for his opponent of the day: “Lee Chong Wei is different from me from my other rivals. He’s the strongest competitor in men’s singles since he can hold on to the world no.1 for such a long time. I don’t know why but whenever I meet him, I always try to be my better self. Of course, he was more relaxed than I was because it’s my home court and I was the only Chinese player in this half of draw. So the match was more important to me. Both of us played defensively in the first game, but I was thinking too much. I tried hard to adjust myself to calm down later on,” said the Chinese ace, after throwing his racket into the crowd.
Later on, China’s Zhang Nan, Zhao Yunlei secured their final spot while the two finalists of the women’s singles were to be Wang Xin and Wang Yihan who edged out Li Xuerui and Liu Xin respectively. Wang Xin (photo) had to save a match point against Li, who is definitely a player to watch out for for the future.
Semi-final results – evening session
MS: Lin Dan (CHN) beat Lee Chong Wei (MAS) 19-21, 21-12, 21-11
WS: Wang Xin (CHN) beat Li Xuerui (CHN) 15-21, 21-18, 23-21
WS: Wang Yihan (CHN) beat Liu Xin (CHN) 21-13, 19-21, 21-16
WD: Xia/Tang (CHN) beat Zhao/Tian (CHN) w/o
XD: Zhang/Zhao (CHN) beat Tao/Xia (CHN) 21-18, 21-19
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