World Champion Dan claims his first Asian badminton title

April 18th, 2010 - 6:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) Olympic and three-time World champion Lin Dan of China claimed his maiden Asian title with a 21-17, 21-15 win over Wang Zhengming while Xuerui Li overcame a stubborn Xin Liu 21-13, 18-21, 21-19 to win the women’s singles title at the Badminton Asia Championships here Sunday.
Second-seeded Dan, who was a favourite to win the title after top seed and staunch rival Taufiq Hidayat made a shock exit in the pre-quarterfinals, showed his all-round ability to finish the game in 39 minutes against the 2008 World junior champion.

The 26-year-old has been going through a lean patch after winning his third World Championship title at Hyderabad last year. He exited from the quarterfinals of the All England Open and Swiss Open this year which resulted in his ranking plummeting to No. 5, but, Super Dan as he is called, set the records straight here Sunday with a superlative show.

“I wanted to win this tournament because I did not have good results in the last two tournaments. It’s difficult to play against your compatriot. Wang is young and he has time to grow as a player and do well at the international level,” Dan said.

The four-time All England Open winner was vociferously cheered by an enthusiastic crowd that turned out in large number despite no Indian presence in the tournament’s final round matches.

“I love the crowd in India. This is my third time here. I have always got good support from the crowd, they back me and motivate me to do well here,” Dan said.

“India is also lucky for me. I won my third World Championship at Hyderabad last year.”

Dan struck powerful smashes during the match. His quick reflexes and deft touches made things only difficult for his opponent as he broke away from 5-5 in the first game. Wang, who is no stranger to Dan as he practices regularly with him, managed to keep up the pace with him but Dan never squandered the lead.

In the second game, Dan surged 4-0 ahead with a barrage of smashes. But Wang staged a revival and drew level at 7-7 as Dan slumped to errors. But the champion quickly regained his focus and took eight points on the trot.

Wang’s defensive game allowed Dan to attack and he was also rattled by his opponents jump smashes. He tried to slow down the game but Dan, who is equally brilliant at the net, used his supple wrists to score in the net dribble.

Wang’s best shot was a gentle nudge of the shuttle at the net which helped him to close the gap to 12-15.

But Dan struck back, reeling off six straight points, to close the match.

The women’s title was being contested by two qualifiers for the first time in the event’s history and it lasted for an hour.

Saina Nehwal’s slayer Li took the first game before Liu came back in the second to take the match to the decider.

It was a keenly fought third game where the two players were locked at 11-11. Li then pocketed four points to go up 15-11. Liu did her best to remain in the game but Li was too good.

“I was confident after beating top seed Saina. I was tired towards the end but believed in my abilities. My coach had asked me to stick to the basics and cut down on unforced errors,” said Li.

Liu admitted she was outpaced by Li.

“She is a very fast player. I tried slowing down the pace, but my plan did not work. I also need to minimise the unforced errors,” she said.

In the men’s doubles, Korea’s Cho Gun Woo and Yoo Yeon Seong upset top seed Hung Ling Chen and Yu Lang Lin of Chinese Taipei 21-19, 12-21, 21-17 in an adrenaline rushing last encounter of the day that lasted 50 minutes.

Sixth seeded Chinese Pan Pan and Qing Tian beat Malaysians Vivian Kah Mun Hoo and Khe Wei Woon 21-10, 21-6 in 27 minutes in women’s doubles.

In the mixed doubles, Malaysian Liu Ying Goh and Peng Soon Chan beat Koreans Yeon Seong Yoo and Ming Jung Kim 21-17, 20-22, 21-19 in an hour long match.

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