Incheon: Badminton world champion Chen Long smashed Malaysian world number one Lee Chong Wei in the men`s team semi-final Monday, helping China to book a place in the battle for gold.
The Chinese favourites will take on South Korea in the men`s team final on Tuesday, after the hosts easily dispatched Taiwan 3-0.
Malaysia faced a difficult task in their clash with a strong China team, which featured 25-year-old world number two Chen and superstar Lin Dan.
Chen made a confident start against Lee in a re-run of this year`s world championship final, where the Chinese player denied the Malaysian gold.
Lee looked hesitant in the first game, going into the break 11-5 down before losing 21-17.
But the 31-year-old rallied in the second with both players putting on an amazing display of powerful smashes and deft net duels which had rival fans cheering from opposite sides of the stadium.
Lee took the game 21-19 but it was not to last as he seemed to lose confidence and concentration in the third and, despite a few flashes of brilliance, consistent Chen won 21-11, taking a 2-1 victory.
"Both Lee Chong Wei and I wanted to win for our teams, so I prepared very well," said Chen.
"My rhythm was very solid... the key to my win was keeping a normal mind, whether I was winning or losing."
Despite his defeat, Lee said he was not disappointed.
"I tried my best, I just enjoyed the game," he said.
Lin saw off Malaysia`s Chong Wei Feng 21-11 21-12 as China romped to a 3-0 overall win.
China`s women`s team will also face South Korea in their final later Monday.Lee`s performance does not bode well for the men`s individual singles competition which starts Thursday and would likely see Lee have to take on Chen again if he reaches the final.
To get there he may also need to defeat nemesis Lin, who is in the same half of the draw.
Fans are hoping for another classic showdown between the shuttling legends in 31-year-old Lee`s Asian Games swansong.
Lin, 30, has repeatedly denied the Malaysian gold in major tournaments, including the Asian Games, Olympics and worlds.
The draw is determined by players` world rankings as of September 18 this year, so Lee and Chen Long are at opposite ends.
With Lin picking and choosing his competitions these days, he is only seeded ninth, scraping into Lee`s half.
Lin is likely to face Hong Kong`s Hu Yun, seeded sixth, and Japan`s third seed Kenichi Tago on his way to the semis.
Lee looks set for an easier ride, with Thailand`s eighth seed Boonsak Ponsana the only ranked player he would have to take on before the semi-final.
Chen is the clear favourite in the other half of the draw, with Indonesia`s Tommy Sugiarto and South Korea`s Son Wan-Ho his biggest challengers.
South Korea`s Son is one to watch for an upset though, having pulled out some inspired performances in the men`s team event in Incheon.