After narrowly beating India’s Srikanth Kidambi in his quarterfinal match, Lin Dan knew he’d have to perform much better if he wanted to beat the world’s current #1 player, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei. After beating Lee in two straight gold medal matches and with Lee retiring after the Olympics, Lin knew that Lee was going to want revenge more than ever.
In the semifinals on Friday morning, Lin Dan played very well, but Lee was slightly better in the end. Outstanding awareness, athletic ability, hard smashes, and deft touch, were all on display by Lin in the first game. Throughout the game, Lin made Lee go to his backhand quite often, giving himself the opportunity to return the serve with one of his deadly accurate and lethal smashes. With Lin winning the first game 21-15, Lee had to make an adjustment and he did just that.
Lee turned it on in the second game and had Lin scrambling all over the court. Looking tired and out of gas, Lin Dan wasn’t himself and Lee took full advantage, winning 21-11. Lee continued to make Lin play near the net in order to limit the amount of times he had to deal with Lin’s rocket-like smash. The second game was a perfect example of Lee taking away Lin’s aggressiveness, which is why he was able to even the match at 1-1.
The third and deciding game was simply a back-and-forth classic. In a game filled with long rallies and incredible skill, it was inevitable that it would come down to the wire. Lee had Lin on the ropes with a 20-17 lead and a chance to seal it, but Lin brilliantly scored four straight points to tie the game at 20-20. The final points were won by Lee as he pulled out a 22-20 victory, defeating his nemesis in an instant classic.
Lee Chong Wei plans to retire after the Olympics, and with his strong and gutty performance today, he looks destined to go out on top. (highlights to follow)