KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — It was not a walk in the park for both Lin Dan and Cheng Long to win their semi-finals battles against much younger players in the 2019 Malaysia Open badminton championships today.
The two China’s senior shuttlers were also forced to play rubber game by their respective opponents before claiming their spots in the final of the tournament held at the Axiata Arena Kuala Lumpur Sports City (KLSC) in Bukit Jalil.
Fourth-seeded Chen Long had to work hard before winning over unseeded Indonesian Jonatan Christie 12-21, 21-10, 21-15, while Lin Dan, who received roaring support from Malaysian supporters, had to play more than an hour before claiming a 21-19, 16-21, 21-12 victory over world number two, who is also his compatriot, Shi Yuqi.
Both Chen Long and Lin Dan are eyeing for their second Malaysia Open title in the finals tomorrow.
“I had played against Jonatan few times, he is a good player and never gives up. Today’s match is tough if compared to yesterday’s and I played almost an hour. It was tiring,” Chen Long told reporters after the match.
Chen Long, who won the title in 2015, said final match tomorrow would be different due to the absence of Malaysian badminton ace, Datuk Lee Chong Wei.
“Everyone is hoping to see him play. Speedy recovery to him,” Chen Long added.
Chong Wei withdrew from this year’s tournament despite the fact that he was recovering well from early stage nose cancer after his doctor advised him to pull out from the Level 3 Badminton World Federation (BWF) tournament so as not to put his body under undue stress.
Meanwhile the two-time Olympic champion, Lin Dan, also agreed that Chong Wei’s absence gives an impact to the Malaysian Open because all badminton fans wanted to see him in the final match.
“If Chong Wei competed in this tournament, it will be complete because everyone is here. Chong Wei is a Malaysian hero. I really hope to see him back on the badminton court as soon as possible. However, he needs to be in good health. All the best to him,” he said.
Lin Dan also admitted that his chance to qualify for Tokyo Olympic 2020 was getting more difficult due to the presence of new and younger players who had performed very well.
“There is so much more pressure because I need to compete with young players, not only in China but in other countries.
“I still have one year to qualify for the Olympic Games so anything can happen during this period. Most important thing is to be consistent,” said Lin Dan. — Bernama