London: World number one Lee Chong Wei and Olympic champion Lin Dan moved closer to a dream final when they reached the quarter-finals of the world badminton championships in contrasting styles Thursday.
Lee was in supremely brilliant form in a 21-11, 21-5 victory over Park Sung-Hwan, the ninth-seeded Korean, getting so completely on top that eventually the Malaysian was able to run through his entire range of tactical options.
Lin however had to work hard to win 21-16, 21-13 against Lee Hyun-Il, the 12th seeded Korean, trailing for two-thirds of the first game.
The Chinese player, often an explosive attacker whilst winning every major title in the game, was now obliged to dig deep in defence, and to lift and clear patiently during some lengthy rallies.
These two faced each other in the 2008 Olympic final and in this year's All-England Open final, and two more wins for each would give the tournament the perfect climax on Sunday.
"These are my seventh world championships and every time there are many more players from different countries who are difficult to beat," commented Lin.
"Today I tried my best. He was mentally very well prepared and I am glad to have won."
Lin appeared to get on top mentally during his advance from 14-14 to 20-15 in the first game, after which he moved steadily to a 11-5 lead in the second.
The tight and urgent mood of the rallies may have been a throwback to the notorious 2008 Korean Open final which Lee won after much aggravation over line decisions and harsh words from both camps. Lin denied though that any negative emotions remained.
Lee's splendid success against Park was a victory over the man who had ended Lin's world title defence in Paris last year, and he was ruthless in forcing home his advantage.
It was a contest up to 9-6 in the first game, during which Lee used his gliding movement and accurately deep placements to create cumulative pressure.
But after that he began to open up, risking full-on smashes and sliced overhead attacks earlier in the rallies, and finding that he could often force his way through more quickly.
Lee was then able to mix it up, sometimes counter-attacking, and sometimes switching between tactics, although he afterwards seemed nervous, perhaps concerned that he was peaking too soon or perhaps giving away tactical secrets to opponents.
"You already know what I was doing," Lee retorted, when asked if he would comment on the dazzling range of options he displayed.
Earlier he volunteered that he had been very focused during this match, and that he had played better each day during his three matches.
Later Pi Hongyan's rehabilitation as a high level player continued, the China-raised former world number two from France reaching the quarter-finals as she had before a delighted crowd in the Stade Pierre de Coubertin last year.
After a tight first game Pi's rhythm and confidence improved, and her resulting 21-18, 21-14 victory over Sayako Sato, the 16th seeded Japanese, was her second success against a seeded opponent in two days.
She is likely next to face Wang Yihan, the second-seeded former All-England Open champion from China.