THE fierce rivalry between World No 1 Lee Chong Wei and Olympic champion Lin Dan of China has been so intense that it is hard to see anyone else than the duo dominating the men's singles badminton scene for several more years.
Chong Wei, who used to lag behind Lin Dan a couple of years ago, has remarkably bridged the gap of late.
And the Malaysian even compared their rivalry to that of tennis aces Rafael Nadal of Spain and Roger Federer if Switzerland and this has actually boosted Chong Wei's hunger for success.
The fact that Lin Dan has lost some of his explosive performance since winning the Beijing Olympics has helped Chong Wei move up a notch especially in the confident manner he counters his great China rival.
Chong Wei said their clashes have become so close that Lin Dan cannot string two or three victories in a row over him and the former is also able to bounce back from a defeat fast.
"It used to be Lin Dan against Taufik (Hidayat of Indonesia) but I have been able to challenge the Olympic champion now. The rivalry is something like Nadal against Federer," said Chong Wei yesterday.
"Lin Dan can't attack as much as he used to while I have also managed to regain my confidence and challenge him.
"We should be facing each other in many more finals and the better player on the day would win. But I don't see either of us maintaining a winning streak over each other.
"It is hard to predict who will win the next encounter but that is the excitement the men's singles has created and this is good for badminton.
"I would be competing in two Super Series tournaments next month but I'm not too worried about the results.
"The target for both of us is obviously the World Championships in Hyderabad (August 10-16) and mind games will be going on between us during the buildup."
Chong Wei said that peaking at the right time for the World Championships will be important and this means the Singapore (June 9-14) and Indonesia Opens (June 16-21) will only serve as warm-up tournaments.
Lin Dan will also be in the same boat, saving his best for the World Championships where he will be going for a hat-trick in Hyderabad, a feat no shuttler has achieved in the men's singles, while Chong Wei will be aiming for his first world title.