After six heart-pounding days of action in China, the 2013 Badminton World Federation World Championships will conclude on Sunday in Guangzhou.
In all five divisions, we've seen favorites and underdogs state their case for supremacy. Looking at the layout for the deciding matches, there's a good mix of both still in pursuit of a title.
In four of the five final matches scheduled for Sunday, the top-seeded player—or players, if we're talking about doubles teams—reached the final. In the men's double division, neither Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan nor Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen comprised the highest-rated team.
Sheng Mu Lee and Chia Hsin Tsai took care of top-seeded men's doubles team Sung Hyun Ko and Yong Dae Lee on Thursday.
The biggest draw on Sunday will be in the men's singles final, where Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan will renew their epic rivalry on the grandest of stages. Lee is the top seed in the draw, but he will have his hands full facing his Chinese opponent, who is widely considered to be one of the all-time greats.
Wang Xiaoli and Yang (F) Yu will take on Hye Won Eom and Ye Na Jang in the women's doubles final, Xu Chen and Ma Jin will oppose Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir in the mixed doubles final and top-seeded woman Li Xuerui will battle Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon for the singles title.
In preparation for what should be an epic championship Sunday, here's a complete preview of what will be the grand finale in Guangzhou.
What: 2013 BWF World Championship finals
When: Sunday, Aug. 11 at 1 a.m. ET (1 p.m. CST)
Where: Tianhe Sports Center; Guangzhou, China
Live Stream: BadmintonWorld.TV
|Women's Doubles||Wang Xiaoli/Yang (F) Yu (1) vs. Hye Won Eom/Ye Na Jang (8)|
|Women's Singles||Li Xuerui (1) vs. Ratchanok Intanon (4)|
|Mixed Doubles||Xu Chen/Ma Jin (1) vs. Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (3)|
|Men's Doubles||Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (3) vs. Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (6)|
|Men's Singles||Lee Chong Wei (1) vs. Lin Dan|
There are officially five matches left to crown five different sets of victors, but there's little doubt where most of the attention will be cast.
Lin and Lee are poised to steal the show.
"Dream matchup" seems to be the buzzword surrounding the pair squaring off, and this tweet from Sports247.my would seem to confirm that idea:
"This is my dream", says Chong Wei as he takes on Lin Dan tomorrow in the final.— Sports247.my (@Sports247my) August 10, 2013
Cleverly placed as the final event of the day, the first four final matches can be seen by fans before the two champions oppose each other for the 20th time with a title on the line. Lin holds a 13-6 advantage over Lee right now, with two of his biggest victories coming at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
Who will win the men's singles title?
Lee, though, has held his own of late. Since 2011, the overall record sits at just 3-2 in Lin's favor.
Lin has been noticeably absent from the badminton scene since winning the Olympics in London, but he's come back firing on all cylinders in China. In five matches, he hasn't dropped a set, while Lee has looked human in his past two times on the court.
It should be an epic battle between two of the sport's biggest stars.
Elsewhere, Lin's Chinese compatriot Xuerui will take on Intanon for the women's title. Both were strong in the semifinals, making short work of their opponents en route to the final. Xuerui (21-5, 21-11 over Yeon Ju Bae) needed only 31 minutes to complete her victory.
As noted by STsportsdesk on Twitter, Xuerui will have added motivation coming into the final; the Chinese star lost in the Singapore Open final in the final tune-up before the World Championships:
Badminton: China's Wang Yihan avenges Olympic loss, beats team-mate Li Xuerui 21-18, 21-12 at Singapore Open for women's singles title.— STsportsdesk (@STsportsdesk) June 23, 2013
In the men's doubles final, Boe and Mogensen have their work cut out for them against a strong pair of Indonesian opponents.
Although they are the highest remaining seed in the classification, Ahsan and Setiawan managed to win their semifinal match in straight sets, as opposed to Boe's and Mogensen's three-set clash with Ki Jung Kim and Sa Rang Kim.
Badminton Europe had this tweet concerning strategy for the two Danes:
Mathias Boe: We have our chances tomorrow. But it'll be difficult. They play typical Indonesian with focus on service and service return.— BADMlNTON Europe (@EuropeBEC) August 10, 2013
Top-seeded women's double pair Xiaoli and Yu ran into some trouble in the semifinals, but they will still be the favorites in the final. Xu and Ma will also be heavy favorites in the mixed doubles finals.
With five World Championship titles still on the line, anything could happen in China. It's been a thrilling week of action so far, and the safe bet lies with that trend continuing on the tournament's final day.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.