Super Dan sets up all-Chinese final
Singapore: Chinese badminton ace Lin Dan squeezed out a victory over veteran Dane Peter Gade on Saturday to set up an all-Chinese men`s final at the Singapore Open.
In the women`s draw, Denmark`s world number nine Tine Baun pulled off an upset in the semi-final when she defeated China`s world number one and All-England champion Wang Shixian in straight games 21-15 and 21-16.
Lin will play compatriot Chen Jin, the reigning world champion, who earlier despatched countryman Wang Zhengming in straight games 21-17 and 21-11 in the first semi-final.
Super Dan, as he is known to his millions of zealous fans, was made to work hard for his semi-final win after losing the first set 20-22 despite holding a couple of game points.
The Chinese superstar, regarded as badminton`s Roger Federer, tightened up his game in the final two sets and kept up his trademark aerial smashes and retrieving skills to fend off his 34-year-old opponent.
Long rallies characterised by airborne smashes and delicate net exchanges had the crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in rapture as Lin took the last two games 21-17 and 21-15.
"Both of us played to our best potential today," Lin told a post-match news conference.
"If I can play that well at Peter`s age, I will be happy," said the 27-year-old, adding one of his goals right now was to help promote badminton to a bigger audience.
"I`m sure the Singapore audience enjoyed an exhilarating game. This is what badminton should be about."
Lin is the most decorated player in badminton history, having won almost every major title in the game including the world championships, World Cup, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, Asian Games and Asia Championships titles.
The Super Series season-ending tournament is the only prestigious trophy missing from his cabinet.
Gade, who has a losing record against Lin, was not able to sustain his assault on the Chinese ace over three games.
"Against Lin Dan, you have to play well," said Gade who could only rue his missed chances.
"I felt today was a good chance. In some parts of the game, he was insecure."
In the first men`s semi-final, Chen was in top form as he outclassed his younger opponent with superb smashes and deftly placed drop shots to advance to Sunday`s final.
Errors started to flow more frequently from Wang`s racquet in the second game as Chen kept up the pace of his attacks and was quick to punish weak returns from his 21-year-old compatriot.
"I think my form is getting better but I don`t want to put too much pressure on myself," Chen, 25, said after the win.
Wang, touted by many as the future of Chinese badminton and possibly a successor to the great Lin, gave credit to the world champion`s sizzling display.
"I was restricted by Chen Jin, who was playing better. This is my first time playing in Singapore but I hope to be champion one day," said Wang, a former world junior champion.
In the women`s final, Baun will play for the title against China`s world number two Wang Xin who saw off Yao Jie of the Netherlands in straight games 21-13 and 21-11.
"I think my performance today was fine perhaps due to adequate preparations I`ve done for this game," Wang said.
Baun is pleased with her form heading into Sunday`s final after her victory over the world`s top female player.
"She had all the pressure. Same as today, I will go in and enjoy being in the final," said Baun.
The Singapore Open is the fifth leg of the 12-stop Badminton World Federation Super Series, with the top eight men`s and women`s singles players and doubles pairs qualifying for the end-of-year showpiece.