BIRMINGHAM, March 9 (Xinhua) -- The top two seeds Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei both eased to the last four of the All-England Open championships on Friday and were likely to repeat their last year's final lineups.
China's Lin beat the Indonesian opponent Taufik Hidayat 2-0, aiming to claim his fifth title of this yearly event.
It was an eye-catching clash between the two Olympic champions in the men's singes, but the 2004 winner Taufik apparently couldn't find his peak form and energy again after recent years' low tides, losing to the 2008 titlist Lin in 21-18, 21-8.
"He played very well. It was the once familiar Taufik to me," said the 28-year-old Chinese.
While 30-year-old Taufik said: "I'm no longer young. Though losing the match, I enjoyed it, especially the first game."
Although the first game had some familiar tastes of their past top and classic clash, once second seed Lin Dan had pulled away at the end of it to take the lead, the Chinese four-time champion of the event quickly established a 9-0 lead in the second and Taufik was never going to be able to pull that back.
The duo, combined with the Denmark legend Peter Hoeg Gade and the Malaysia's world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, was dubbed as "Big Four" after their dominance of the sport in the past years.
But now, as Lin and Lee hinted that the 2012 London Games "might be" their last Olympic shows and the 35-year-old Gade had planned to retire in the end of this year, the four great talents' era was seemingly close to an end.
"In different times, you can see there are many great players and their supporters. Our era are only part of the times. One day it will be ended. It's unavoidable for any competitive sport," said Lin.
"The matches with these great guys are less and less. I will cherish each of them."
Lin's voices were echoed by Lee after the top seed just needed 27 minutes to see off Indonesian Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka 2-0.
"I also feel very sorry for Gade's first round exit. When I was a newcomer in the world's badminton, He was already a big star," said he.
"I always take these top matches very seriously. Indeed, they are less and less."
China's third seed Chen Long was upset by Japan's promising star Kenichi Tago in another quarter-finals.
In the semifinals tomorrow, the defending champion Lee will meet Lee Hyun Il of South Korea and the 2011 runner-up Lin will face Tago.
China's dominance of the sport was also shown in the women's singles and doubles when they seized three berths of the last four.
In the men's and mixed doubles, the top seed Caiyun/Fu Haifeng and Xu Chen/Ma Jin of China both progressed to the semifinals.