Badminton: Lee can deliver

Copenhagen - Badminton's top-ranked Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia continued his charge towards an elusive first world championship title by coasting into the final of the men's singles in Copenhagen yesterday.

The 31-year-old, twice a runner-up at the world event, displayed his class by taking apart Danish 14th seed Viktor Axelsen 21-9, 21-7.

The Malaysian aligned impeccable defence with ruthless efficiency as he capitalised on the opportunities that came his way to make light work of his opponent.

He is on course for a title showdown with China's world No. 2 Chen Long, who was scheduled to play Indonesian fifth seed Tommy Sugiarto in the other semi-final.

Lee has the best chance to win his first world title as long-time rival, China's Lin Dan, is absent from the tournament.

The Malaysian demonstrated his class with a sublime blend of blistering overhead smashes and resolute defence to reel off 12 of the final 13 points in the first game and never looked back. The two-time Olympic singles silver medallist then pocketed 21 of 25 points after trailing 0-3 early in the second game.

"I can go back to resting now and prepare for tomorrow," said Lee. "The country will be watching and there will be more pressure on my shoulders.

"I will try not to think about the pressure and give a big present to my country," added the world No. 1, who is hoping to give Malaysians further joy on Merdeka Day, which marks Malaysia's 1957 independence from British rule.

Earlier, China's world No. 1 Li Xuerui ended Minatsu Mitani's giant-killing streak by beating the Japanese 16th seed 21-8, 21-14 in the women's singles semi-final.

Mitani, who had conquered defending champion Ratchanok Intanon in the last 16 and upset South Korean fifth seed Sung Ji Hyun in the quarter-finals, folded rather tamely against the aggressive Li, who is set to face Indian teenager P.V. Sindhu or Spain's European champion Carolina Marin in the final today.

"My coach and I prepared very well," said Li, 23. "We've watched Mitani during these world championships and came up with a good game plan and it worked."

The women's doubles final will be an all-Chinese affair.

Yesterday, fifth seeds Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei beat South Korea's 16th seeds Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan 21-13, 21-10.

Fourth seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang overcame Japanese seventh seeds Reika Kakiiwa and Miyuki Maeda 21-8, 21-13.

World Championships: Finals StarHub Ch203, 6.30pm

This article was first published on August 31, 2014.
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