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Ouseph: There are chinks in the Lin Dan armour

“There are a few chinks in his armour”.

That was the assessment, albeit somewhat tongue in cheek, of Rajiv Ouseph after the European Champion set up a date with Lin Dan at the World Championships.

The Round of 16 clash with the five-time World Champion was Ouseph’s deserved prize for beating India’s Sameer Verma 22-20, 21-9 on Wednesday evening.

Ouseph was stylish, and dominant, in his defeat of Verma, a player he knows well from their time as team mates with Hyderabad Hunters in the Indian Premier League.

The Englishman played with a maintained intensity and pace that unsettled his rival, suffocating attacks with subtlety at the net and deep clears that kept Verma on the move and from finding a base on which to work.

Ouseph did not have it all his own way though. The European champion saved game points in a nip-tuck first end which swung from point one. But he was the epitomy of a man fresh from a landmark title win in the second, playing with total confidence and belief in a gameplan that manifested itself into a winning margin from 11-7.

It was a result, it felt, that was never in doubt such was the control.

Now attentions turn to Lin Dan and the potential of a World Championships quarter final berth if he can rally to a first career win against the Chinese superstar.

It is a prospect that, understandably, has Ouseph licking his lips, with the feeling of anticipation currently usurping any nerves he may be feeling.

His rival has already beaten British talent here in Glasgow, dispatching Scotland’s Kieran Merrilees 21-15, 21-10 in a somewhat relaxed Round One performance.  

But Ouseph will take hope from Lin Dan’s showing on Wednesday in which he was pushed to three by Denmark’s Emil Holst. Holst had his rival on the run for long periods of the contest -  a stark contrast to his own relatively comfortable 44-minute path.

“It doesn't get much bigger than playing the greatest player that's ever played, and in the World Championships, so it's a very exciting challenge to play him and the pressure's off me a bit,” Ouseph said.

“It doesn't get much better than that, so I'll just go in there and try and enjoy myself and see what happens”

Ouseph’s head to head record against Lin Dan points to a tough encounter – he has yet to take more than 14 points, let alone a game, off the legend in 3 attempts.

But if we've learnt anything from the last few days in Glasgow, then head to heads do not always stack up at the Worlds - just ask France's Brice Leverdez.

Only 13 world ranking places split Ouseph and Lin Dan now though and they have not faced each other the net in 5 years.

It will not faze Ouseph either.

“I hope another upset is on the cards, if I could take that win tomorrow it would be the biggest win of my career.

“I’ll look to those other upsets in the tournament and see if I can do the same.

“I have to go into the match believing I can win this game,” he added. “There are a few chinks in his armour, so I'll believe I can win tomorrow.​”