BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) Title holder Lee Chong Wei survived a scare in the last 16 of the All-England Open Thursday to set up an eagerly-awaited quarterfinal showdown with double Olympic champion Lin Dan in badminton’s oldest tournament.
Malaysian Chong Wei, 35, was made to battle all the way before scoring a 21-6,13-21, 21-18 win against South Korea’s Lee Dong Keun.
After a five-point lead evaporated in the decider, Chong-Wei had to dive around in acrobatic defense to keep his opponent at bay.
The rally he won to go 19-17 up eventually proved decisive. Three times he picked himself off the floor to thwart smashes before producing a fourth plunge to make a stunning winner at the net.
”I played better and better,” Chong Wei said. ”But I think I will enjoy it more tomorrow. I hope everyone else enjoys it too,” he said of his 40th meeting with Lin Dan, 34.
Lin Dan also had some difficult moments before winning 21-13, 23-21 against Taiwan’s Wang Tzu Wei.
Lin trailed 20-17 in the second game against an opponent who set up several clever mid-court rallies, moving the shuttle at different angles and varying speeds to disrupt his rhythm.
”But I lost my concentration,” Wang said. ”I was too eager and made errors. Next time I must be calmer.”
Lin is chasing a seventh All-England title to help atone for his loss in the World Championships final in Glasgow in August. There may be extra danger in the top half of the draw where fellow Chinese Chen Long, his successor as Olympic champion, is making ominous progress.
India’s Kidambi Srikanth, the third seed, wasted two match points as he lost 21-11, 15-21, 22-20 to little-known Huang Yuxiang of China.
The women’s top seed, Tai Tzu Ying, beat Busanan Ongbamrungphan, the world number 24 from Thailand, while Carolina Marin, the Olympic champion from Spain, defeated Japan’s Saena Kawakami.
Ratchanok Intanon, the former world champion from Thailand, was the only one of the women’s front-line contenders who failed to make the last eight.