Friday, March 09, 2012

Lin Dan plans to keep playing after Olympics

Olympic and world champion Lin Dan reached the quarter-finals of the All-England Open on Thursday and revealed that he may not after all retire after the London Olympics.
Lin's 21-13, 21-16 win over fellow left-hander Chong Wei Feng keeps alive a chance of becoming the first men's singles player of the open era to win five All-England titles.
"I will probably relax for a period of time and then continue," said the 28-year-old from Fujian, whose impact on the sponsorship capability of the BWF Premier and Super Series is enormous.
So is Lin's enduring skill. His ability to produce the unexpected and to switch fluidly between defence and attack was always likely to be too much for Chong, although the Malaysian qualifier gave a decent account of himself.
Lin also expressed support for Peter Gade, the 35-year-old former world number one from Denmark, whose last All-England came to a controversial end with a first round defeat in a match which started five hours late and ended in the early hours of Thursday morning.
"He has my sympathy -- he was unlucky," said Lin, who is said to be considering a trip to Copenhagen to play an exhibition with Gade.
Lin is seeded for a repeat encounter in the final with Lee Chong Wei, the defending champion from Malaysia, to whom the Chinese player lost in last year's final but overcame in an exceptional world final at Wembley in August.
Lee also won, and similarly indicated that his predicted retirement at the London Olympics will not happen.
Instead he will make one last attempt to win the world title next year before considering a career in coaching.
Lee's 23-21, 21-18 win over Hans-Christian Vittinghus, the unseeded but improving Dane, required him to save game points at 19-20 and 20-21, and to continue to work hard through the rest of the match.
"But that was what I needed," said Lee, who now has a quarter-final with an unseeded survivor, Dionysius Rumbaka.
The former top 20 player from Indonesia suggested he is again playing to that standard with a well-taken 21-17, 21-17 win over Sho Sasaki, the sixth seeded Japanese player.
The top seed in the women's singles, Wang Yihan, reached the quarter-finals even more comfortably and earned a repeat of the All-England finals of 2009 and 2010.
The Chinese player was a 21-13, 21-12 winner against her compatriot Liu Xin, which means she now plays Denmark's Tine Baun, to whom she lost the year before last but beat three years ago.
"Tomorrow is very important," Wang said.
Baun showed no signs of her hip problem and was forceful and dominating in a 21-9, 21-17 win over Ai Goto, the world number 22 from Japan.
Earlier another Wang also become involved in a repeat of an All-England final.
This saw the titleholder from China, Wang Shixian, repeat last year's win over Eriko Hirose, the determined, athletic Japanese player, by 21-10, 21-19.
Another front runner, Saina Nehwal, the fourth-seeded Commonwealth champion from India, had a comparably good win, a 21-10, 21-17 success against Pi Hongyan, the former world number two from France.
"I'm very happy to play such a good match," said Nehwal who had lost five of her six previous matches against the former Chinese squad player.
"I had been fearing this match."
She next plays Li Xuerui, the seventh-seeded Chinese player.
Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, the former world number one men's doubles pair from Malaysia, suffered a fractious end to their bid to reach the All-England final a second successive year.
At 19-all in the final game against China's Hong Wei and Shen Ye, Koo went for a drink from the courtside box after being told not to by the umpire.
That got him a yellow card. When Koo then went for a walk around the court, he was shown a red card for delaying, causing a penalty point to be awarded to the opponents.
That put Koo and Tan match point down, which meant that one good strike from the Chinese was all that was needed to earn an unexpected 12-21, 21-17, 22-20 victory.

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