Lin dethroned as All-England champion

Lin Dan held two game points at 20-18 in the first game against the unseeded Shi Yuqi, before slipping quietly away to a 24-22 21-10 defeat.

After leading 20-18 in the first game, Lin Dan crashed to a straight-game defeat.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Lin Dan, the three-times Olympic champion, lost his men’s singles title at the All-England Open with a bewilderingly limp straight games semifinal defeat to his fellow Chinese player Shi Yuqi.

The man regarded as the greatest player of all time briefly held two game points at 20-18 in the first game against the unseeded Shi, before slipping quietly away to a 24-22 21-10 defeat on Saturday.

READ: Lee storms into seventh All-England final

Lin’s deflating loss ended hopes of another final showdown between the veteran greats — the 33-year-old Lin, and the 34-year-old World No. 1 from Malaysia, Lee Chong Wei, who had already reached the final.

“My condition is not very good,” said Lin though he had looked in good shape while coming from a game down to beat Viktor Axelsen, the World Super Series champion from Denmark, the night before.

“I am proud of the way I am still able to play at this level at my age.”

Four-time champion Lee reached the final for a seventh time by recovering from a worrying start to beat Chiu Tien Chen of Taiwan 10-21 21-14 21-9.

It was a wonderful turn-around after a slow first game and a tournament preparation which had been decimated by injury — so wonderful that afterwards Lee announced that his retirement, which has been mooted at least three times in the past four years, has been postponed yet again.