Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei book their place in final
Birmingham: Indian hope Saina Nehwal faltered in the quarterfinals of the All England Open badminton championships to a Japanese player who had to keep away thoughts of the devastating tsunami at home. The fifth-seeded Saina, who was expected to win at the event given the absence of some top Chinese players, lost 21-11, 22-20 to Japanese rival Eriko Hirose late on Friday.
The match was contested evenly to start with but Hirose took control by breaking through the rallies that Saina generally wraps up in her favour.
Saina came back in the second game and it went neck and neck but the Indian ultimately fell short as Hirose held her nerves to clinch the issue.
With Saina’s loss, India’s campaign at the event ended as all her compatriots had already crashed out in previous rounds.
“After my injury in 2007, I started to train really intensively and I can see now it’s paying back,” said Eriko. “I’m feeling very good at the moment and I’m really pleased with my game tonight. Moreover, after what happened in my country today, I really felt it was my duty to win my match today. I was so happy that my relatives weren’t hurt.”
Meanwhile, three-time world champion Lin Dan moved into yet another All England final beating German Marc Zweibler. 21-9 16-21 21-11 to avenge Zwiebler’s upset of his countryman Chen Jin. Lin Dan will take on either reigning champion Lee Chong Wei, or compatriot Chen Long in the final.
Lee looked in great form during a 21-15, 21-7 quarterfinal win over Boonsak Ponsana, the eighth-seeded Thai — even though he claimed that he had not been.
In fact he might have won by more. He won the first six points, and never allowed that margin to be eroded by more than one point in the first game. The second became almost one way traffic as Lee 16 of the first 18 points.
He did it with super-quick movement which enabled him to knock the shuttle about and hustle his opponent. He did it with fast reactions in the mid-court exchanges, and he did it with brilliant clips and slices which dragged the shuttle down to the floor when it had been lifted short.
Which made it even more of a surprise when he said: “I didn’t play all that well.” It sounded very much like a verbal smokescreen to reduce the pressure.
Chen Long, the fifth-seeded Chinese player, entered the semis with his first win in four attempts against Peter Gade, the former All-England champion from Denmark.
Chen was steady, consistent, and physically strong, maneouvring the shuttle around patiently in lots of long rallies which concluded in a 21-12, 21-12 victory.
Gade did not look himself, and perhaps had been unable to, for his preparation had been hampered by injuries and his game looked muted. But Chen certainly took advantage well.
The women’s singles is sure of a Chinese finalist after Wang Shixian, the top seed, and Wang Xin, the world runner-up, came through.
MS: Lin Dan (Chn) bt Marc Zwiebler (Ger) 21-9 16-21 21-11; Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt Chen Long (Chn) 21-17 21-13
WS: Eriko Hirose (Jpn) bt Petya Nedelcheva (Bul) 21-15 22-20; Wang Shixian (Chn) bt Wang Xin (Chn) 21-9 21-17
MD: Boe/ Mogensen (Den) bt Chai/ Zhendong (Chn) 26-24 21-12
WD: Mizuki Fujii/ Reika Kakiiwa (Jpn) bt Shizuka Matsuo/ Mami Naito 21-19 21-17; Wang Xiaoli/ Yu Yang (Chn) bt Line Kruse/ Marie Ropke (Den) 21-10 18-21 21-9
XD: Sudket/ Saralee (Tha) bt Setiawan (Ina)/ Russikh (Rus) 21-15 21-17; Chen Xu/ Ma Jin (Chn) bt Michael Fuchs/ Birgit Michels (Ger) 21-19 21-17