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Badminton: Lin Dan still king as Chinese star retains Asian Games title

Despite extended periods away from top-flight competition in the past two years, Lin Dan came from behind to beat World No. 2 Chen Long for his second straight Asian Games title. Photo: AFP.

Despite extended periods away from top-flight competition in the past two years, Lin Dan came from behind to beat World No. 2 Chen Long for his second straight Asian Games title. Photo: AFP.

September 29, 2014: Lin Dan reinforced his reputation as the greatest badminton player of all time when the 30-year-old left-hander won his second straight Asian Games title by beating World Championships winner Chen Long 12-21, 21-16, 21-16 in an all-China final on Monday night.

 

Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei later beat Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir 21-16, 21-14 in the mixed doubles final to give China their third gold medal in the badminton competition, ahead of Indonesia with two.

 

As well as two Asian Games golds, Lin has won two Olympic titles and five World Championships, although he didn’t compete in this year’s Worlds due to his lowly ranking followed extended periods out of the game since London 2012.

 

However, the 30-year-old beat World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in the semi-final to set up a final with his younger compatriot, the World No. 2 who had beaten Lee to win his first World Championships title in Copenhagen at the end of August.

 

Chen, 25, dominated the first game as Lin took time to find his range, although the match gradually changed complexion as the defending champion began to control the exchanges in the second game.

 

Rarely resorting to the full-blooded smash, Lin chose to tease the shuttle through awkward angles and paces to keep Chen constantly searching for it. Several stunning rallies followed, mostly won by Lin, with his exceptional defence helping him blunt Chen’s best attacking shots. On game point he unleashed a wicked crosscourt smash to catch Chen off-guard, helping him level at a game apiece.

 

Chen was able to stay close on points in the early part of the deciding game, but Lin again regained control. The pinpoint accuracy, sudden shifts in direction, tightness of net play, and prolonged bouts of error-free badminton began to take a toll on Chen and cracks soon appeared in his game. From midway in the third game, Lin accelerated ahead, eventually sealing the win with a backhand kill at the net.

 

In the mixed doubles final, Ahmad and Natsir started off in commanding fashion, scoring winners at will and leaving Zhang and Zhao looking outclassed. Killing rallies with nearly every touch, the Indonesians ran up a 13-7 lead and appeared set to take the game.

 

However, from that point on, they inexplicably collapsed. Ahmad committed a slew of errors, helping Zhang and Zhao draw level, while Natsir, who dominated Zhao at the net early on, also succumbed to the occasion, and the Chinese easily helped themselves to the opening game.

 

The second game was a breeze for the Chinese, with the Indonesians struggling to get themselves back in the match, and Zhang and Zhao added the Asian Games gold to their Olympic and World Championships titles.

 

Source: BWF (www.bwfbadminton.org); Editing by SportAsia

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