Incheon: Chinese badminton superstar Lin Dan was put through a marathon second game by low-ranked Korean challenger Lee Dong-Keun in a surprise scare at the Asian Games here Thursday.
Fans are hoping for a showdown between veteran stars Lin and Malaysian world number one Lee Chong Wei, who is making his last bid for an Asiad gold.
But their path to the later rounds of the men's singles is not going to be easy, as South Korean challengers rise to the occasion on their home turf.
Lin, 30, easily beat Korea's Lee in two games in the men's team competition, which the hosts went on to win.
And it looked like another whitewash in Lin's first match of the singles as he strode through the opening game 21-12.
But spurred on by local fans and stands packed with children, 23-year-old Lee rallied in the second going ahead 12-8.
He passed Lin with precision shots as the Chinese titan became increasingly disgruntled, putting returns into the net and questioning line calls.
Lee could not sustain the pressure though and it looked to be all over as Lin battled back to match point at 20-19.
It was then that the Korean showed what he could do, forcing Lin to put shots wide and passing him with powerful drives.
Neither player was able to seal the game with Lin raising his eyes and grimacing as he put wide another return to go 26-26.
It was a flash of classic Super Dan brilliance that finally signalled the end for the Korean as Lin showed lightning reflexes to fire back a mid-court smash and go up 27-26, capitalising with another smash to win the game 28-26.
"He played very well, especially in front of a home crowd," said Lin after the match, adding that he had been prepared for a difficult clash.
"I expected it because every opponent, no matter who they are, or how low they are ranked, when they play against Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei they have no pressure at all.
"They just play to the best of their capacity."
Lee added: "I had the confidence to win the second set, but Lin Dan played very well and I couldn't manage it."
Chinese world number one Li Xuerui eased through her women's singles round-two match against Hong Kong's Yip Pui Yin, winning 21-13 21-15.