Birmingham: Lin Dan, the former two-time Olympic champion, turned the clock back for one magical hour on Friday as he ended the title defence of his career-long rival Lee Chong Wei in the quarter-finals of the All-England Open.
The 34-year-old Chinese player beat the 35-year-old Malaysian 21-16, 21-17, though their light-footed movements and brilliantly varied stroke-play would have made it impossible for outsiders to guess their ages.
Lee attacked more than usual to try to nullify the attacking threat of a freshly motivated Lin, and managed to squeeze in front at 16-15 in the first game and 13-10 in the second.
But Lin showed just why he has made himself many people’s unofficial favourite for his seventh All-England title, making brilliant surges during the most crucial phases of both games and finishing them off quickly.
"I played quite well," said Lin understatedly. "It’s a great tournament, and he is one of the great competitors, so this is superb."
Lee did not appear too downcast.
“I will move forward now,” he said. “There are a lot of competitions to come this year.”
But there will surely be fears that this may have been his last appearance at the tournament he says he loves best.
Earlier there was an upset when Olympic champion Chen Long lost for the first time to his fellow Chinese player Shi Yuqi, and after his 21-10, 21-17 defeat he appeared to be suggesting that the result was to be expected.
“I am happy that whoever wins this match will go to the semi-finals for Team China,” he said.
“I often train with him and we are friends,” responded the seventh-seeded Shi.
"But every time we played before he won. I will try to do better than last year,” he added, referring to his loss to Lee Chong Wei in 2017 final.
He next has a semi-final with Son Wan Ho, the fifth-seeded Korean.
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Updated Date: Mar 17, 2018 12:09:36 IST