Chen Long fought off a stubborn Viktor Axelsen at the world championships Friday, with the plucky Dane pushing the top seed to the limit in an epic quarter-final showdown in Jakarta.
Chen claimed the first game but the seventh-seeded Axelsen put up a dogged defence in the second, dragging the contest beyond an hour before succumbing 21-18, 30-29.
“I was starting to prepare for the third game, but luckily I got it,” Chen told reporters via a translator.
It’s not the first time the 21-year-old Dane has punched above his weight against the Chinese champion, narrowly losing in a three-set battle for gold in the Australian Open in May.
A devastated Axelsen said he struggled to find rhythm and get the best of his formidable opponent.
“I was so close to getting the second set, but Chen Long played better than me here,” the young hopeful told reporters after the match.
“Of course when I look back in a few days I can be proud of my performance today… but when you are so close to winning it’s pretty disappointing.”
Chen progresses to the semi-finals where he will face fourth seed Kento Momota, who dispatched Hong Kong’s Wei Nan 21-6, 21-14.
The 20-year-old Momota, who won the Indonesian Open in June, said he was hoping to face Axelsen but is determined to do his best against the defending champion.
“Chen Long is the number one seed, so I hope to prove myself against him,” the Japanese star said through a translator.
– Marin keeps her cool –
In the women’s singles, world number one Carolina Marin appeared at her most confident as she charged past her toughest opponent yet, seventh seed Wang Shixian of China, 21-17, 21-19.
The Spaniard showed no sign of the ankle injury she incurred on Thursday and kept her cool even as Wang put her through her paces in the second game.
Marin will face Korean Sung Ji-Hyun after the ninth-seed beat India’s P.V. Sindhu 21-17, 19-21, 21-16.
Indonesia’s unseeded shuttler Lindaweni Fanetri upset Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying, bouncing back from a slow start to defeat the fourth seed 14-21, 22-20, 21-12 before a roaring home crowd.
Unseeded Japanese pair Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao, who dismissed the second-ranked Chinese pair on Thursday, continued their rampage in the women’s doubles with a 25-23, 21-14 win over 13th seeded Indian pair Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa.
In a rematch of last year’s final, defending champions Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei beat their Chinese compatriots Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, ending Yu’s hopes of becoming the first player in history to win four women’s doubles gold medals.
There were fewer surprises in the mixed doubles, with the top three pairs – two from China and one from Indonesia – progressing to the semi finals.
Five-time world champion Lin Dan and second seed Jan O. Jorgensen go head-to-head later Friday in what is expected to be one of the tournament’s fiercest contests to date.
The winner of that match will face Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei who has returned from an eight-month doping ban guns blazing.
The former world number one claimed his third high-profile scalp of the tournament on Friday, dispatching 13th seed Hu Yun of Hong Kong 21-12, 21-18. – Agence France-Presse