GLASGOW: Lin Dan stayed on course for a record-breaking sixth men’s singles title at the World Championships in Glasgow with a straight games quarter-final win over Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki Vincent in Glasgow.
But Carolina Marin’s reign came to a surprise end following a 19-21, 21-14, 15-21 defeat to Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara.
Marin, champion in 2014 and 2015 and Olympic gold medallist last year, had come through two easy matches but more than met her match against the dogged No.7 seed.
“I am very happy, but also very tired,” said Okuhara. “Carolina is a very speedy player. At the start of the third and in tough points in the match I was telling myself ‘You can do it, you can do it!’ Now I want the gold medal.”
Dan, 33, hasn’t won the title since 2013, but he is guaranteed at least a bronze medal after the 21-17, 21-18 victory.
After two three game matches, the veteran was delighted to get on and off court within the hour.
“I really enjoyed today’s match,” he said. “I am very happy that I managed to minimise my opponent’s performance. It was good to get it done quicker today and I expect to perform fully to my 100% tomorrow.”
In the semi-finals, he clashes with the new world No.1 from South Korea, Son Wan Ho. Dan’s first world medal was a silver in 2005 - he then won the title in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013.
For Son, it is the prospect of a first major title that spurs him on. He cruised past Kidambi Srikanth 21-14, 21-18.
“Today I am really happy with my performance and to reach my first world semi-final,” he said. “I will now prepare really hard for my match against Lin Dan.”
In the bottom half, China’s defending champion and Olympic gold medalist, Chen Long, will meet the last European hope, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen.
Axelsen needed three games to overcome Chou Tien Chen 21-18, 20-22, 21-16, but Chen beat compatriot Tian Houwei much more easily, 21-12, 21-17.
In the women’s singles, Okuhara will meet India’s Saina Nehwal - she knocked out local hope Kirsty Gilmour - and Chen Yufei continued to knock out higher seeds.
Following her win over favourite Akane Yamaguchi on Thursday, the teenager came from behind to beat Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon.
Seeded one place lower at No.9, Yufei, the world junior champion, dropped the opening game 14-21 but battled back to win the next two 21-16, 21-12.
“I am very happy to win two very tough matches in a row,” said the 19-year-old. “I am also happy as I now know I can compete with the best in the world.
“After losing the first game, I was just trying to gain my confidence. I changed my strategy. When I was serving high I was putting myself under a lot of pressure because she is a very good attacking player, however when I switched to the short serve it helped my game a lot.”
Chen now needs to stage a third underdog victory to reach the final. In the semis she will face the No.4 seed from India, Pusarla V Sindhu.
In the mixed doubles, Chinese No 2 seeds, Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong suffered a shock defeat to Hong Kong’s Lee Chun Hei Reginald and Chau Hoi Wah. In a tough three end match, the No.10 seeds won 21-13, 17-21, 21-15.
“We don’t really think about the medal,” said Chau, who is now guaranteed bronze. “We have never beaten them before but every time it is close and always goes to three games. It’s good to win at last.” — AFP