Following his smooth ride yesterday into the second round after his two-minute duel with Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto who quit at 2-0 down due to a nagging back injury, China’s Lin Dan played his first “official” match in the USD500,000 Maybank Malaysia Open and eased into the quarter-finals with a 21-15, 21-14 win over India’s H.S. Prannoy on Thursday.
The match lasted 52 minutes but Lin Dan was all smiles with the victory as he chases his first ever Malaysia Open title at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
When posed with the question after his win, Lin Dan said he may not have won the Malaysia Open but he has achieved many other “memorable victories” in Malaysia.
“I have won the Thomas Cup and the World titles here. In China, the Thomas Cup is regarded as a ‘major’ so it does not bother me when people say I have yet to bag the Malaysia Open title. I have many sweet memories here and I look forward to adding more to it after playing my first ‘official’ match today.
“Yesterday’s (Wednesday) match (against Tommy Sugiarto) turned out to be unexpected. It was not an easy match against Prannoy today. He put up some resistance. Of late India have produced good players who are coming on fine and they are turning out to be difficult opponents,” said the five time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist.
Lin is making a comeback to the Malaysia Open after a two-year absence and strongly tipped to pose a serious threat to the favourites in the absence of defending champion Datuk Lee Chong Wei although he is only seeded No 5. Compatriot Chen Long is the top seed while Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen is the No 2 seed.
Asked if Chen Long is the next Lin Dan, the Chinese superstar, refused to say anything but said: “You will still us playing for the country in team tournaments.”
Meanwhile, Chen Long was hardly tested in his 21-10, 21-6 defeat of India’s Commonwealth Games champion P. Kashyap to earn a quarter-final match against Japan’s former junior world champion Kento Momota who bundled out Hong Kong’s Hu Yuin 21-6, 21-9 in 27 minutes.
China’s rising star Xue Song, who toppled third seed San Wan-ho of Korea in the first round, marched into the quarter-finals with a 21-17, 21-9 win over Taiwan’s Hsu Jen Hao. He will take on Wang Zhengming, another up and coming player from China, for a place in the semi-finals Zhengming defeated Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk with a come from behind 17-21, 21-10, 21-8 victory.
Lin Dan will face the winner of the Tian Houwei (China) – K. Srikanth (India) match to be played later tonight.