GUANGZHOU, China, Aug. 9 -- Badminton superstar Lin Dan of China beat teammate Chen Long in a close quarter-final 21-13, 22-20 to reach the top four of men's singles at the badminton world championships here on Friday.
Arguably the most decorated shuttler of all time, Lin returned to badminton after a year on the sidelines. He dropped to No. 286 in the newly-published world rankings and entered the tournament with a wild card.
World No. 2 Chen is obviously in form of his life at the moment. Therefore the two Chinese shuttlers' encounter was highly anticipated.
Reigning champion Lin, who has not been stretched in the first three rounds, met hard resistance from second seeded Chen in the quarter-finals.
Both players showed good defense and attack skill at the start of the opening set, but Lin scored seven points in a row to build an 18-10 lead and eventually took the first set 21-13. Chen seemed a bit irritated when lagging behind.
In the second set, Chen made quick adjustment and the score went point for point amid thunderous cheers and applause from the spectators in the Tianhe Gymnasium, from 6-all to 20-all, before Chen's return hit into the net to end the match 22-20.
"Chen and I are familiar with each other's style, but there is only one winner. You cannot say Chen didn't play well just because he lost the match. I think we both hit form today," said Lin.
Lin will meet the winter between Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam and Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark in the semi-finals.
Chen said, "I'm not so disappointed losing the match, but if I could play better in the end of the second set, probably the match would go into the decider."
Lin has won every major title available to an Asian and he believed Chen will become the next leading men's singles shuttler besides Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei and himself. "Chen is still 24 years old, he could win great titles in the future en route to the 2016 Rio Olympics."
Chen claimed the title of World Superseries Finals last year and beat Lee in the final to win this year's All-England Open. After the London Olympic Games, he has been in hot form.
Chen said, "Lin has four world championships titles and I hope to be more experienced through participating in large events."