Hong Kong's Hu Yun came within a point of claiming the famous scalp of China's double Olympic champion Lin Dan at the Asian Championships in Taipei yesterday.
Playing his first tournament in eight months after clinching his second Olympic singles title in London last year, Lin was on the brink of defeat after trailing 20-19 in the third and deciding game of the round of 32 match to the Hong Kong third seed, Lin's former teammate in the China team.
But Lin dug deep to take the game and the match 10-21, 21-7, 23-21. "It's a pity Hu could not finish off the job," said Hong Kong coach Tim He Yiming.
"Hu Yun did very well today, leading in the final stages of the third game and reaching match point first, but his opponent is the double Olympic champion. Lin noticed Hu Yun was finding difficulty returning the shuttlecock because of the air currents and changed his tactics immediately. Lin is very experienced and has great confidence in himself. Even if he is not 100 per cent fit, he can still play very well."
"Super Dan" reckoned the hard-fought match had given him back some of the match toughness he had been lacking.
"There is always uncertainty in a 21-point rally and there isn't much difference between the world No 1 and No 40 in a match," he said afterwards. "I am now getting better in adapting to the match rhythm as you can only learn this through real competition and not practice."
Lin, whose ranking has dropped to 39th, went on to beat Kazumasa Sakai of Japan 17-21, 21-13, 21-9 to reach the quarterfinals.
Hong Kong's Chan Yan-kit also advanced to the men's singles last eight after beating Hsueh Hsuan-yi of the hosts 21-16, 21-19.
In women's doubles, Tse Ying-suet and Poon Lok-yan also reached the quarters, along with another Hong Kong pair, Lee Chun-hei and Chau Hoi-wah, in the mixed doubles competition.