Badminton fans are already anticipating a rematch between the Men’s Singles gold and silver medallist from Beijing as both won their quarter-finals tonight.
Defending champion Lin Dan of China and top seed, Lee Chong Wei, remained on track to meet in another Olympic final when they advanced to the London 2012 semi-finals at Wembley Arena. Lin Dan’s compatriot Chen Long and Korean veteran Lee Hyun-il also made the last four.
Meanwhile, in Women’s Doubles, the No. 2 and No. 4 seeds booked a finals meeting. Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei of China and Japan’s Reika Kakiiwa/Mizuki Fujii both encountered unexpected resistance from under-rated Russians and Canadians respectively.
While Tian/ Yunlei managed to hold off Russian pair Valeri Sorokina/Nina Vislova in straight games despite some trouble in the first, Kakiiwa and Fujii were given a scare by Canadians Alex Bruce and Michelle Li.
Not only did the Canadians win the second game, they also remained within striking distance of the Japanese in the third, before the superior experience of Kakiiwa and Fujii helped them over the line.
Among the day’s best matches was the Men’s Singles battle between Lee Hyun-il and Chen Jin. Both play a relatively defensive form of badminton, and spectators got to see long, slow rallies where the shuttlers tested each other. The score changed at snail’s pace but it was engrossing badminton because it resembled a chess match. Hyun-il eventually closed it out 21-15 21-16.
“I expected a longer match because our matches have generally been three games,” said the unflappable Hyun-il. “It was unusual that it finished in straight games.”
Defending champion Lin Dan was in imperious touch from the outset, but once his challenger – Sho Sasaki of Japan – settled in, he forced a third game in which Lin Dan came through.
Earlier, Parupalli Kashyap (featured image) of India produced a brave performance but was outclassed by world No. 2 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in the Olympic quarter-finals. The Indian matched the Malaysian shot for shot in the first game, but once he lost that narrowly, his intensity waned and he fell 21-19 21-11.
“I badly wanted to win this one,” said Kashyap. “I just didn’t want to lose. I kept thinking about that and maybe that affected me. Once I trailed 3-11 in the second game, I just couldn’t come back.
“He had too many different strokes,” conceded Kashyap. “After I lost the first game it was always going to be difficult. It’s hard to explain. If I had won the first, the momentum would’ve carried me through.”
Lee was gracious in victory, conceding that Kashyap had improved a lot since they last locked horns.
“There was never a doubt in my mind that I would take the first game,” he said. “Kashyap was making me move around… I’m playing better and better.”