INCHEON, South Korea (AFP) – Badminton number one Lee Chong Wei fought back from a game down Saturday to set up a new clash with arch-rival Lin Dan as Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari turned giantkillers again in the Asian Games women’s doubles.
Lee had to dig deep to beat Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh, 21-23, 21-16, 21-17 in the men’s singles quarter final. He gets his latest chance against China’s Lin in the semi-final on Sunday.
“Today I didn’t play so well,” Lee said after the gruelling match which saw the sweat-drenched players changing their shirts and frequently towelling their faces.
After squandering a 12-4 lead Lee finally took the deciding game after two crucial shots bounced back off the net cord for Nguyen.
Olympic champion Lin later eased through 21-14, 21-18 against Japan’s Kenichi Tago to set up the latest instalment in the gripping badminton rivalry.
Long-time number one Lee has frequently been undone by Lin on the big stage and the 31-year-old is now making his last attempt at winning Asian Games gold.
“Before I went out on court I heard Lee Chong Wei had told Chinese reporters that he had lost many games before against me, so he has nothing to lose,” said Lin.
“I don’t know when I or Lee Chong Wei will retire, so I cherish every opportunity to play against him.”
Lin beat Lee in the Asian Games final four years ago, one of many major victories, including in the last two Olympic finals and the 2011 and 2013 world championship finals. Lin leads their head-to-head 22-9.
The last time they met was in the dramatic 2013 world final in Guangzhou, where Lee lost in three games, collapsing during the third in an overheated stadium.
Lee lost this year’s worlds final to Lin’s Chinese team-mate, 25-year-old Chen Long, who beat the Malaysian in the men’s team semi-final in Incheon.
Chen meets Hong Kong’s Wei Nan in the other singles semi on Sunday.
Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari destroyed Japanese favourites and world number threes Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo to take the women’s doubles title 21-15, 21-9.
The seventh seeds became the first Indonesians to win the Asiad women’s doubles title since 1978.
The Indonesians had already pulled off a shock semi-final defeat of China’s defending champions Zhao Yunlei and Tian Qing, the world and Olympic title holders.
“Our coach told us before the match: don’t lose hope, don’t lose courage. Keep playing and playing until you win the game,” said an ecstatic Polii.
“It’s very hard to beat someone who never gives up, and we never give up.”
The women’s singles final Sunday is a Chinese head-to-head between Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan, while Korean men’s doubles gold medal favourites Lee Yong-Dae and Yoo Yeon-Seong take on Indonesia’s Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan in their final.
Chinese players are against Indonesians in both mixed doubles semi-finals Sunday.