‘Marathon Man’ Vincent Wong earns Lin Dan super showdown at Worlds
Hong Kong ace produces huge upset in defeating world No 2 Shi Yuqi to reach quarter-finals in Glasgow where he will meet two-time Olympic champion
Vincent Wong Wing-ki earned a quarter-final showdown with Chinese great Lin Dan after storming through to the quarter-finals of the world badminton championships in Glasgow in what is becoming a memorable week for Hong Kong.
Wong, who has been battling injuries during the last few years, is earning the moniker “marathon man” after upsetting China’s world No 2, Shi Yuqi, in men’s singles at the Emirates Arena on Thursday night.
The 27-year-old Hong Kong-born player of Indonesian heritage has gone through many ups and downs but was back to his best as he handed the heralded Chinese a 13-21, 21-15, 26-21 defeat in 74 minutes. Wong’s previous victory over Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama on Tuesday took him 84 minutes to complete.
Wong will earn a showdown against five-time world champion Lin Dan, who was pushed to three games again to reach the quarter-finals.
Lin defeated European champion Rajiv Ouseph, of England, 14-21, 21-17, 21-16 and the five-time world champion would have to be wary of Wong when they meet again on Friday night (before 7pm Hong Kong time).
Wong has beaten Lin in the last 16 stage of the 2011 Denmark Open and will be out to continue his giant-killing run at the tournament.
“I not only have to try my best, I have to win,” said world No 14 Wong on his encounter with “Super Dan”. “It wasn’t luck that I beat Shi Yuqi. I believed in myself. I have been training for two months and tried to pinpoint my weaknesses and my opponent’s weaknesses and strengths.
“This is determination. I have to remind myself with my faith. I have to trust in myself,” he said.
Wong is hitting new heights. His first-round win was his first ever at the worlds in a 12-year pro career. In the second round he saved three match points against Tsuneyama.
On Thursday night, he improved to 2-0 against Shi, who has reached two finals and two semi-finals this year, but he was overhauled by an inspired Wong in their third game. Wong, from 10-6 down, won 13 of the next 14 points to win the deciding game 26-21.
Wong’s upset victory made amends for teammate Angus Ng Ka-long’s defeat in the last 16, where he lost to Rio Olympic bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen, of Denmark.
Meanwhile, defending two-time champion Chen Long, top-seeded Son Wan-ho, and the in-form Kidambi Srikanth all advanced.
The top two women’s seeds lost, to no great surprise, but the survivors included past champions Carolina Marin of Spain and Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.
Before facing Lin, Ouseph believed there were “a few chinks in his armour,” and the Englishman found enough to take a first game off the Chinese superstar in four matches. But in the second game Lin was always ahead, and in the third Lin ended any doubt, surging from 9-7 to 16-7.
Chen Long, yet to drop a game, must get past fellow Chinese Tian Houwei to likely face a rematch of the Olympic semi-final with Axelsen.
Son will try to pass the worlds quarter-finals for the first time at the expense of Kidambi, riding a 13-match winning streak. They are 4-4 in head to heads, but Kidambi won both of their matches this year.
Chen Yufei, the junior world champion from China, beat women’s No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan 21-18, 21-19. It was Chen’s first win in their four matchups, including losses this year in the Asian team championships and Australian Open. But Yamaguchi hasn’t been a closer, and couldn’t impose herself.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Chen said. Her reward was Ratchanok, the 2013 world champion.
Marin hardly broke a sweat again, and lined up Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, whom she has a 3-5 record against, and 1-1 this year.
Nehwal, the former No. 1 chasing her first world title, took out second-seeded Sung Ji-hyun of South Korea 21-19, 21-15. She next faces inspired local Kirsty Gilmour, who lives 15 minutes away.
Another Indian, Olympic runner-up Pusarla Sindhu, will play Sun Yu of China in another quarter-final.
Additional reporting Associated Press