"There are a few chinks in his armour, so I'll believe I can win tomorrow,” British shuttler Rajiv Ouseph told Badminton England after setting up a quarter-final clash with China's Lin Dan in the 2017 BWF World Badminton Championships in Glasgow.
One wonders if the quote was relevant given the 34-year-old's dip in form and below average performances in big events this calendar year. To add weight to Ouseph's bold statement, Lin lost the opening game 14-21 on the next day and was on the back foot in the second, but the Briton was soon forced to swallow his words. Lin floored Ouseph after the interval in the second game and held his nerve to enter the semi-final of the men's singles.
The result showed how onerous the task to stop the 33-year-old Chinese is. He never runs out of steam and is a player with complete control of the shuttle and the game.
In the next game, he was pitted against World No 1 Son Wan Ho of South Korea – the man who reached the top of the rankings purely on the basis of points he gathered by entering the last four of Superseries tournaments. Having been stretched to three games in his previous two matches, the onus was on Lin to stay steady against an in-form and a very defensive Son, who was coming on the back of an impressive straight-game win over the high-flying Kidambi Srikanth.
Despite a slow start, Lin raced into the lead and clinched the first game 21-17. Son, who was hesitant to play net shots, let the Chinese surge ahead in the second game and eventually gifted him a handful of points through net errors to lose the match in straight games. The only weapon Son had was to play long rallies, which Lin had a grip on throughout the match. And again, the Chinese ace proved he is not to be taken lightly at the world event.
The two results are, in fact, a reflection of Lin's vast experience in major tournaments. He has been under the toughest of situations and that's why he is considered an immortal figure in a sport where there are no favourites as such. It's the consistency that has left the world in awe of the man who became the first and the only player to complete the 'Super Grand Slam', having won all nine major titles in badminton: Olympics, World Championships, World Cup, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, Super Series Masters Finals, All England Open, Asian Games and Asian Championships, all by the age of 28.
Lin, who had previously won the world title in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013, will have to beat 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen in the final of the World Championships on Sunday. Nicknamed 'Super Dan' by his fans, the 33-year-old will play his seventh final in the World Championships. He lost only once in 2005. Incidentally, it was the Dane who sent Lin packing in the Olympics last year in the bronze medal match. Moreover, the scores are tied at 3-3 in the overall head-to-head meetings between the duo. Axelsen, the current World No 3, has barely put a foot wrong in the tournament with impressive victories over Ng Ka Long Angus, Chou Tien Chen and Chen Long en route to the final. However, Lin is just beyond comparison when it comes to finals.
With such unrivalled record at World Championships and a knack for creating history every now and then, the Chinese ace will be looking to surpass South Korean legend Park Joo-bong and Zhao Yunlei of China, who have five world titles each, to become the shuttler with the most number of gold medals at World Championships. In other words, to become immortal!
Updated Date: Aug 27, 2017 18:03 PM