KUCHING: One is eyeing a 12th Malaysian Open title while the other is searching for his first.
Whatever happens, badminton fans can expect another magical show when Lee Chong Wei meets his nemesis Lin Dan in the men’s singles final of the US$600,000 (RM2.4mil) Premier Superseries at Stadium Perpaduan in Petra Jaya today.
The two had clashed at the same stage and at the same venue 11 years ago. Then, it was Chong Wei who emerged triumphant when he staged a spectacular comeback from 13-20 down in the decider to beat the China ace 21-18, 18-21, 23-21.
Yesterday, the 34-year-old Chong Wei crushed Vincent Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong 21-12, 21-9 in 39 minutes in a lop-sided semi-final clash.
Lin Dan was equally impressive when he turned on the power to beat South Korea’s Son Wan-ho 27-25, 19-21, 21-16 in 84 minutes.
Eleven-time Malaysian Open champion Chong Wei can’t believe that the two “old guys” are meeting in the final again after 11 years.
“Lin Dan and I are back at the same stage, same stadium in Sarawak after 11 years ...,” said Chong Wei.
“I’m not the only one who has been waiting for this moment ... badminton fans all over the world have been waiting too! We're no longer in our 20s ... but we're still at the top of our games.
“Lin Dan is in good form here ... just look at the way he has fought in his matches here. I'll give my best to win my 12th Malaysian Open title.”
Lin Dan acknowledged that he wants to perform well in front of a crowd that has been supportive of him from day one.
“I can’t really remember that match in 2006, but the crowd wasn’t friendly. This time, they have been more welcoming ... I enjoy that and I want to give a good show,” said Lin Dan.
“I know everyone wants us to meet in the final. I'm very lucky and happy to still have a rival like Chong Wei around.
“Since 2015, we've only met three times ... it's getting difficult to meet one another, so we’ll make it special.”
Besides the final in 2006, Lin Dan had also failed to win the Malaysian Open title when he made it to the finals in 2005 and 2015.
In fact, the Malaysian Open is the only major title to have eluded him.
Chong Wei and Lin Dan have played each other 37 times – with Lin Dan having won 25 of them.