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Badminton: ‘Father’ Lee, ‘husband’ Lin to clash in World Champs final

World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei celebrates his semi-final win over Du Pengyu.

World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei celebrates his semi-final win over Du Pengyu.

 

August 10, 2013: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and defending champion Lin Dan will extend their legendary rivalry when they contest the men’s singles final at the BWF World Championships in Guangzhou on Sunday.

 

Lee, 30, is still seeking his first global title and the Malaysian had to come from behind to beat World No. 3 Du Pengyu 20-22, 21-12, 21-15 in front of a fired-up crowd at Tianhe Sport Center late Saturday night.

 

Chinese superstar Lin, who needed a wildcard to enter after playing just one tournament since beating Lee to win his second Olympic title last August, earlier beat Vietnamese World No. 7 Nguyen Tien Minh 21-17, 21-15. Lin is currently ranked World No. 286.

 

Lee had to come from behind to beat Du.

Lee had to come from behind to beat Du.

Lee said the birth of his son, Kingston, in April would provide inspiration as he takes on his long-term rival and attempts to win the tournament for the first time, having lost to Lin in the 2011 final as well as the last two Olympic finals.

 

“My family and the birth of my son will provide the main motivation,” Lee said. “I hope my son will bring me luck.”

 

Lee showed great powers of recovery to come back from 17-10 down in the first game to draw level at 20-20, but lost the next two points to the delight of much of the large crowd. However, he led for most of next two games and after securing victory, pointed to a vociferous group of Malaysia fans who had been cheering him on.

 

“Since I lost the first game, I treated this game very seriously and played it like a final,” Lee said. “Du Pengyu obviously prepared very well for the match because whatever I did, he could always return it, especially in the first game. I think whenever the Chinese players play me, they prepare very well.”

 

Although Lee has been World No. 1 for much of the past five years, Lin has frequently bettered him in major finals and is seeking his fifth World Championships title to add to wins in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011. The event is not held in Olympic years.

 

Defending champion Lin Dan beat Nguyen Tien Minh in the earlier semi-final.

Defending champion Lin Dan beat Nguyen Tien Minh in the earlier semi-final.

However, the 29-year-old is drastically short of match fitness after not competing since last August until the Badminton Asia Championships in April, when he withdrew with injury midway through the event.

 

“Chong Wei is an experienced player, he’s always well prepared and targets to win every match,” said Lin, who will be playing Lee for the first time since marrying long-time girlfriend Xie Xingfang last December.

 

“I think the final will be an excellent match, no matter who wins. Chong Wei seems to have been playing pretty well since the Olympics, so I’ll need to prepare and play well.”

 

Lin had an erratic start to his semi-final, mixing his usual array of spectacular winners with a series of unforced errors and misjudgements as he frequently allowed Nguyen’s shots to drop in.

 

The players were never more than two points apart until 14-14, when Lin hit two winning smashes on his way to a 20-15 lead, eventually converting his third match point.

 

Lin gradually found his rhythm and after a Nguyen smash hit him on the foot to make it 6-6 in the second game, the crowd favourite took control, running away to an 18-10 lead before sealing the match and a sixth appearance in a World Championships final.

 

“I really, really admire Nguyen very much. He’s a similar age to Chong Wei and I, and although he might not be familiar to some people, he’s a player with a very strong mind and is really hard working, just like my teammate Du Pengyu. He did really well in today’s match,” Lin said.

 

“Before the match, my coach gave me some tips as we knew that he had been playing really well recently. This was the closest he has come to the title, so we needed to be well prepared. The tips helped a lot, even when I was not doing too well in the first game. I adjusted my mindset, got back into the match and I’m glad I won.”

 

Nguyen also admitted that Lin’s performance was below par, but refused to underestimate the four-time champion’s ability to raise his game for the big occasion.

 

“I played okay today, but was a little bit tired because I played a long, three-game match yesterday. If I had more energy, maybe I could keep up with Lin Dan more and get more points,” Nguyen said.

 

“I don’t think he played that well. I don’t think he played 100 per cent. He made many mistakes, but he has so much experience and in the end he knows how to get it in.”

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