Guangzhou: Defending world and Olympic champion Lin Dan is through to the final after a shaky start against a fired-up underdog.
The 29-year-old Chinese superstar, widely regarded as badminton's best ever player won 21-17, 21-15 against Vietnam’s seventh seed Nguyen Tien Minh.
Dancing light-footed around the court, the agile Vietnamese player, 30, won applause from the partisan crowd with a cheeky over-the-shoulder return as Lin took his time to find his feet in the first game.
Lin, who is returning to badminton after almost a year on the sidelines to spend time with his family, slipped behind after misjudging Nguyen's early returns.
But Lin began to take control as the first game went on, injecting pace and attacking play with jump smashes and unreachable shots down the line, taking it 21-17.
The second game saw the tenacious Vietnamese player, who has never beaten Lin, refuse to give up, giving his all in punchy rallies and forcing Lin to dive around the court.
“I haven’t really played any world level matches over the past year and it's unbelievable that I've got into the finals. I'm really happy,” Lin said after the match.
In philosophical mood, he said he had stopped caring so much about winning and that family life had helped him curb his on-court temper.
“I don’t care to much about the result, I just want to do my best,” he said.
World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei will face Dan in final after he defeated Chinese Du Pengyu 20-22, 21-12, 21-15.
“I was not nervous, the problem was that Du Pengyu had prepared very well for the match, especially for the first game. Whatever I gave the shot, he could always return it,” said 30-year-old Lee. (Agencies)