Lin on track for world title after blistering semi
Chinese ace looks for a repeat of his Olympic feat when he faces Malaysia's Lee again today
Chinese superstar Lin Dan stormed into the final of the world championships to set up a dream clash against old rival Lee Chong-Wei of Malaysia today.
It will be the first time the two stars play each other since their memorable encounter at the London Olympic Games final, where Lin prevailed in three games at Wembley Arena.
After overcoming second seed Chen Long in the quarter-finals on Friday, Lin put on a master class yesterday, beating eighth seed Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam 21-17, 21-15.
Lee had a tougher test but his 20-22, 21-13, 21-15 victory over third seed Du Pengyu of China proved the Malaysian ace is still in top form as he chases his first world title since losing to Lin in London two years ago.
China coach Li Yongbo was surprised by the performance of 30-year-old Lin, who is ranked just 286 in the world after taking almost a year off since London. "He really is in a class of his own ... he is simply a genius," said Li, who led China to a clean sweep of all five gold medals in London.
"Lin is also very focused in training despite his age. Once he decided to come back, he has been fully committed to giving his best. Our younger players have a lot to learn from him."
Li tipped Lin would be the favourite against world No 1 Lee. "As much as I think Lee deserves to be world champion at least once as reward for all the work he has put into the sport, he will be facing a man who seems possessed," Li said.
Lin, who already has four world titles under his belt, said he had been working hard on his fitness despite his long absence from the international arena.
"I've kept my fitness up," said the defending champion, who tried to play down his chances in today's final.
"Lee is an old rival and has kept playing since the Olympic Games. Obviously, he is sharper than me."
Of his clash with Lin, Lee said his baby son Kingston, who was born in April, would be his inspiration. "I hope my son will bring me luck," he said.
In the women's singles, Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand became the first player from her country to reach the final after routing P.V. Sindhu of India 21-10, 21-13 in the semis.
The 18-year-old now faces a daunting task against top-seeded Chinese Li Xuerui in the final. "I hope I can make my country proud," the fourth-seeded Thai said. "I've beaten Li once but that was two years ago.
"Now she is the world number one and the Olympic champion. It's not going to be easy for me."