Johor Baru - Chen Jin of China upset compatriot and world No 1 Lin Dan in the semi-finals yesterday at the Asia Badminton Championships, the last qualifying tournament before the Beijing Olympics.
Chen quickly downed the defending champion 21-13, 21-14. Lin, once again, was stopped short of his first ABC crown. Lin's usual attacking play was absent, and Chen, seeded No 4, won comfortably.
'Both of us played our usual game,' said Chen. 'And because we knew each other so well, we could anticipate each other's shots. But I believe Lin Dan was nursing an injury and it affected his game.'
The event, which offers a total prize money of US$125,000 ($169,000), is the last tournament to determine rankings for the Olympics in August.
Lin's surprisingly quick defeat was good news for China, as it maintained Chen's Badminton World Federation (BWF) ranking at No 4 - enough to ensure an Olympic berth.
Lin is still No 1. Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei is No 2 and China's Bao Chunlai is No 3.
According to BWF guidelines, a country has the right to three places in the Olympics if its players are ranked among the top four.
[Comment: It is fortuitous then that the world #1, whose position was not at risk, lost to the world ranked #4 who might have be reduced in ranking if he had lost. In other words, a happy coincidence my eye! I smell a rat!]
Chen will go up against South Korea's Park Sung Hwan in the final today. The latter beat Indonesia's Sony Dwi Kuncoro 14-21, 21-16, 21-19 in the other semi-final.
The 24-year-old Park said: 'I'm happy to be in the final. I'm going to give it my best shot, even though, in our last meeting at the Asian Games in Doha two years ago, I lost to Chen.'
It will be an all-China affair in the women's singles final, with defending champion Jiang Yanjiao taking on Wang Lin.
Jiang beat 2006 champion Wang Chen of Hong Kong 21-17, 21-16, while Wang Lin beat another Hong Kong player, No 3 seed Yip Pui Yin, 21-14, 21-18 in the semi-finals.
The women's doubles final will be between world No 1 pair Yang Wei and Zhang Jiewen of China, and Taiwan's Cheng Wen-hsin and Chien Yu-chin, the third seed.