This week, Olympics watchers have already seen the likes of Simone Biles and Usain Bolt make history, but for badminton fans, the best is yet to come. The most heated match of the week will take place this Friday morning as the sport’s biggest rivals come head to head again in the men’s single’s semifinals. Yes, the men’s single’s badminton semifinals is the match to watch, trust us. Archrivals and top-ranked players Lin Dan of China and Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia will be duking it out for a spot in the finals. And with both in their thirties, this may be the last time they meet up at an elite event.
In the last two Summer Olympics, Lee and Lin battled it out for the gold medal; each time Lin walked away the victor. Lee, who is currently ranked the number one men’s singles badminton player and was Malaysia’s flagbearer in the opening ceremony, handily won his last match against Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen. Defending Olympic champion Lin struggled a bit more against Srikanth Kidambi of India, losing the second game 11-21 but coming back to win the match in the third game 21-18.
Lee will be entering the semifinals on an upward swing, but the stakes are high for him as he has yet to win an Olympic gold. “This is my last Olympics. I’ve won two silvers in the past and now I want gold so I have to focus on that,” he told the South China Morning Post. Singapore badminton player Ronald Susilo, who knocked Lin out of the 2004 Olympics in a huge upset, believes Lin will come out on top, as he “should handle the pressure much better.” Lin has defeated Lee in 22 of the 31 matches they’ve played against each other.
Viktor Axelsen of Denmark and Chen Long of China will face off in the other semifinal match, with Chen favored to move on to the finals. But no matter who wins that round, it’s the Lee-Lin match that’ll likely determine who wins gold. Tickets for the semifinal start at just R$180 – a steal to see the sport’s greatest rivalry come to a head.