Badminton Life

Lee Hyun-Il Stuns Bao in Beijing

South Korea's Lee Hyun-il destroyed Bao Chunlai's hopes of Olympic glory by sending the third seed crashing out of men's singles badminton competition at the quarter-final stage in Beijing.

Lee scored a 23-21, 21-11 victory in 45 minutes to set up a semi-final date with another Lee, Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei, the second seed.

The other semi-final will be an all-Chinese affair between top seed Lin Dan and fourth-seeded Chen Jin.

Lin defeated Denmark's Peter Gade 21-13, 21-16 while Chen, the All England champion, eliminated Taiwan's Hsieh Yu-hsing 21-8, 21-14.

It will be an intriguing match with Chen defeating Lin in the All England final as well as April's Asian Championship semi-final in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

At the Asian event, observers felt Lin did his teammate a favour by losing, enabling Chen to secure a world ranking of four and thus ensure that he could be the third Chinese player to qualify for the Olympics.

Lin, as number one, and third-ranked Bao had already made it to Beijing because of their ranking. Olympic rules state that only two players from each country can qualify unless they are ranked in the top four.

Chen had to beat Lin in that semi-final and the world number one duly obliged. He is unlikely to be so kind in the actual Olympic semi-final but, in Chinese badminton, stranger things have happened.

Lee Hyun-il has emerged as a top player in 2008, winning the Korean Open in January, where he beat Lin in a bitter final, and performing well in other competitions.

Chong, who has also had a good year, definitely won't have it easy as the two players vie for a place in the final.

In the mixed doubles, Britain's Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson fell short of repeating their performance of four years ago when they were knocked out in the quarter-finals.

The 2004 silver medalist lost to South Korea's Lee Hyo-jung and Lee Yong-dae 21-19, 21-12.

Indonesia's top seeds Liliyana and Nova Widianto moved into the last four with a 21-13, 21-19 victory over Thailand's Prapakamol Sudket and Thoungthongkam Saralee.

Their opponents in the semi-finals are China's fourth seeds He Hanbin and Yu Yang, who overcame Poland's Nadiezda Kostiuczyk and Robert Mateusiak 22-20, 23-21.

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