SPORTS

Lin Dan beats Taufik Hidayat, Lee Chong Wei reach Olympic badminton quarterfinals

08/01/2012 05:16 EDT | Updated 10/01/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - Lin Dan won a showdown that wasn't much of a show as he beat Taufik Hidayat 21-9, 21-12 in a last-16 matchup of Olympic badminton champions on Wednesday.

Lin advanced to the quarterfinals in his title defence, but he wasn't tested by the retiring Hidayat, the 2004 gold medallist.

Beijing Games silver medallist Lee Chong Wei also enjoyed a lopsided victory.

At least they were competitive, unlike the previous night's women doubles when four pairs set out to lose their group matches to draw favourable spots in the quarterfinals. The four pairs from China, South Korea and Indonesia were expelled on Wednesday for not trying their best and embarrassing the sport.

There was no whiff of manipulation in the knockout rounds in Wembley Arena, with the seven leading men and five top women all progressing.

Chinese superstar Lin was much too fast for Hidayat, who didn't help his cause with hesitant play at the net and no luck. In the end, the Indonesian star was smiling in resignation as his smashes landed just wide while Lin, who seemed to enjoy every net cord in his favour, watched his shots consistently hit the lines in his 10th straight win over Hidayat.

"I was trying to get my speed up to its potential," said Lin.

Chong Wei also impressed in routing Hidayat's teammate Simon Santoso 21-12, 21-8, following a rusty group win in his first match in 10 weeks. The Malaysian, who tore right ankle ligaments in May, stylishly won on a diving save of a drop shot.

"I didn't expect to play that well," Chong Wei said. "I try to forget about the pain and try my best on every shot."

Third-seeded Chen Long of China and Danish great Peter Gade also won in straight games to set up their quarterfinal. Gade fell to his knees and thumped the court in joy at making the last eight in his fourth straight Olympics. He retains a chance of a first Olympic medal in his last tournament before retiring.

The class of 2010 world champ Chen Jin of China prevailed over Marc Zwiebler of Germany from a game down, setting up a match with Lee Hyun-il of South Korea. Chen won their bronze-medal playoff in Beijing.

Parupalli Kashyap's reward for becoming the first Indian man to ever make the quarterfinals, after beating Niluka Karunaratne of Sri Lanka 21-14, 15-21, 21-9, was a date with Chong Wei.

All three top women's seeds from China progressed with varying degrees of difficulty. No. 1 Wang Yihan was pushed by Bae Yeon-ju of South Korea before winning 15-21, 21-14, 21-14 in 77 minutes. Wang didn't make it safe until 10-10 in the third when she broke Bae's confidence.

Wang lined up a rematch of the world championships final in the same arena last year with Cheng Shao-chieh of Taiwan and her flashy golden shoes. Cheng beat Juan Gu of Singapore 21-18, 21-10 to extend a timely run of form. She reached the Singapore Open final in her last pre-Olympic event but still came to London with more losses than wins this year.

Second-seeded Wang Xin eased past Adrianti Firdasari of Indonesia 21-15, 21-8 and will meet Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, who eliminated sixth-seeded Juliane Schenk. The German was considered a threat to break China's stranglehold but stumbled for the first time against the winner of the last three junior worlds.

The hottest player on the tour, Li Xuerui of China, was given a tough workout in edging Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan 21-16, 23-21 in 46 minutes. Tai saved five match points and had a game point but made errors Li pounced on for her 33rd win in her last 34 matches.

Li next meets unseeded Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong, who finally reached her first major quarters after losing in the last 16 of the last three worlds. Yip outlasted Hongyang Pi of France 13-21, 21-12, 21-5.

"She's powerful," Yip said of Li. "But I know from yesterday and today when I play a seeded player, I can play unbelievable."

Saina Nehwal of India took care of Jao Yie of the Netherlands in straight games, and will face Danish veteran Tine Baun, who advanced when Sho Sasaki of Japan retired in their first game having sprained her left knee.

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