Ratchanok Intanon and Tai Tzu Ying will each compete to be her country’s first All England badminton champion as they both won hard-fought semi-finals in Birmingham.
Story: Serla Rusli and Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondents live from Birmingham
Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)
Ratchanok Intanon (pictured) continued her winning streak in the semi-final of All England 2017. After showing Olympic Champion Carolina Marin the exit the day before, she charged ahead to claim her spot in the women’s singles final by ousting Japanese Akane Yamaguchi in one hard-fought match.
“It was a close game. I am extremely happy with the result,” said Intanon. Her last All England final was in 2013, when Intanon, an underdog at the time, lost to former top Danish shuttler Tine Baun.
“The whole of the women’s singles is more competitive now than it was when I was last in the final,” said Intanon. “I am more experienced now. I know what it takes in the final so hopefully this time it will end better than 4 years ago.”
Intanon will face tournament favourite Tai Tzu Ying (pictured) from Chinese Taipei, who overcame third seed Sung Ji Hyun. The two had a perfectly matched 10-10 record going into the semi-final (including Sung’s victory in the 2013 Universiade final) but Tai bounced back from dropping the first game 11-21 to win the match.
Tai thus created history for her country by becoming the first shuttler from Taiwan to enter the All England final. Intanon, meanwhile, was already among the five Thais to appear in an All England final but facing Tai this year guarantees that there will be a either a first Thai or a first from Taiwan to claim a title.
No sixth for Lin Dan
Reigning All England champion Lin Dan had to give up his designs on a sixth career title after he was outclassed by compatriot Shi Yuqi (pictured), 22-20, 21-11.
Since Shi’s last win at the French Open Superseries a few months ago, the twenty-one-year-old Nantong-born player has been automatically designated as the new great talent that has emerged from the greatest badminton powerhouse, China.
“It was a good game and I’m very happy because it’s my first time at the All England and I beat Lin Dan and have made it to the final,” said Shi. “I consider myself very, very lucky and the team supports me and tries to help me develop so I have to reward them.”
He sealed his berth in the finals in fifty minutes and is now set to face none other than Lee Chong Wei. Lee defeated Taiwan’s number one player, Chou Tien Chen, who was unable to keep the momentum from his German Open victory last weekend.
No England finals
England’s journey in the championship ended when Chinese pair Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (pictured) beat Chris Adcock / Gabrielle Adcock, 19-21, 21-12, 22-20.
The hosts took the first game 19-21, but dropped the second one all too easily, 12-21.
“We came out really strong and took a really tight first game. We were really good and were really happy with it,” said Chris Adcock. “We then dropped our level a little bit and the Chinese played really well in the second game.”
The Chinese took the opportunity to take a comfortable lead 16-12 in the third game. The Adcocks managed to close the gap and even snatched the first match point. However, Lu / Huang proved to be too resilient and they came out victorious 22-20.
“I feel very excited to beat the Adcocks,” said Lu. “Obviously it was hard at times with the home crowd getting behind them, who were also very enthusiastic at times.
“We were also very nervous in the game towards the end so we just wanted to take it one point at a time, to get to the win gradually.”
After the Adcocks’ defeat, Kamilla Rytter Juhl / Christinna Pedersen became the only Europeans represented in the finals. They will face Korean pair Chang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (pictured bottom), who beat 2015 champion Bao Yixin and her new partner Yu Xiaohan, 21-18, 21-18.
Semi-finals day ended in a high note with an adrenaline-pumping clash between Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (pictured) of Indonesia and Danish duo Mads Conrad-Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding. Gideon / Sukamuljo beat their towering opponents 19-21, 21-13, 21-17.
The Indonesians are set to face Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen, who beat fellow Chinese duo Liu Cheng / Zhang Nan in the semi-final. The defeat of two-time mixed winner Zhang, which was followed by losses by Lin Dan and Bao Yixin, meant that only men’s singles can have a repeat champion and all other winners will be brand new.
XD: Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN)  vs. Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS) 
MS: Lee Chong Wei (MAS)  vs. Shi Yuqi (CHN)
WD: Kamilla Rytter Juhl / Christinna Pedersen (DEN)  vs. Chang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR) 
MD: Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA)  vs. Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN) 
WS: Tai Tzu Ying (TPE)  vs. Ratchanok Intanon (THA)