WORLDS 2011 SF – Adcock: “It’s a dream come true”

Against all odds, Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier reached the final of the Yonex BWF World Championships on home soil, beating the in-form pair of Ahmad/Natsir in a stunning straight-game […]

Against all odds, Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier reached the final of the Yonex BWF on home soil, beating the in-form pair of Ahmad/Natsir in a stunning straight-game match. Now awaiting them are world no. 1 Zhao Yunlei and Zhang Nan.  Cheng Shao Chieh joins Wang Yihan into the women’s singles final after she outclassed Juliane Schenk, proving she is a player to watch for the next Olympics.

By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

The dream is one step away from coming true! Barely having pierced the world’s top 20, Imogen Bankier and Chris Adcock (pictured) probably never thought about the day they’d step into a World Championship final. And one cannot take away from the British pair’s talent, as they have played the perfect game during the week, showing the type of mental strength and tactical game few pairs would be able to develop in a very short time.

From the very first round to their brilliant semi-final, Adcock and Bankier played better and better, finding the right weak points of their opponents’ games. The crowd had never been soexcited since the beginning of these World Championships, raising the volume for their home pair to ascend to a world class stage. Thirty-nine minutes were needed to send packing one of the best performing pairs on the international stage, in the name of Tantowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir (pictured), the 2nd seeds here in London.

Despite partnering the great Liliyana Natsir, Tantowi Ahmad might have been a bit too nervous for his first ever World Championship, with a potential final at stake and their status as favourites of the match.

Just two games were  needed to overcome the top Indonesian pair, who themselves reached the 2nd spot in the world rankings in a very short time, after Liliyana Natsir split with her former partner Nova Widianto. This did nothing to intimidate the new British wonders, who took all the possible risks to earn this precious place in the final. Imogen Bankier, raised her game at the front and probably played the best badminton of her career, with very deceptive cross-court drop shots and net kills right onto the players’ bodies.

We had an amazing start in the second game, which was crucial.  They are both skillful players but our game was about playing clever little middle shots and being patient,” said Bankier.

It was an efficient method which allowed them to earn the opening game 21-16, despite a comeback from the Indonesians. The giant screen was often showing the Adcock family screaming whenever Chris and Imogen scored a point. The ecstatic crowd didn’t reduce in decibels in the following game, to keep the lone British remaining hope alive. Concentrated, tactical awareness, all those ingredients were sufficient to run towards victory, for a very first appearance in a World Championship final for Imogen Bankier and Chris Adcock, after their 21-16, 21-19 victory.

This may sound a bit cheesy, but it’s a dream come true, to play in a World Championship final in your own country. That is what you live for – one more to go to win the title,” said Adcock.

About playing Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei in the final the English shuttler said: “Apart from the Japanese pair, we have beaten everyone in straight games. But now we have the final. We played them last September and even got a match point against them. We know them but we have to do our homework. Still, we have every confidence, we have to calm down and prepare for tomorrow.”

Cheng shakes Schenk

Cheng Shao Chieh, Taiwan’s own feminine version of Kelly Slater – the famous American surfer – confirmed again to the world that she was in a stunning shape, claiming her final berth with a very convincing match against Juliane Schenk. Despite the last meeting at the All England, where the German lady had won in straight games, Schenk couldn’t repeat that performance today as she was standing against a highly skilled player.

The Taiwan shuttler who had already been in a semi-final of a World Championship back in 2005, a year after she earned her World Junior Championship crown, is now having great run, six years later, when not too long ago, she thought about retiring because of several injuries. Now almost reaching her peak form, Cheng used all the shots in the book to pave her way to the final, targeting the line, and with precise attacks onto the body and a wonderful vision of the game.

The Taipei girl used a well-disguised shot to finish off the last rally of the first game with a tremendous cross-court smash to take the important psychological advantage, wrapping the game 21-18.

Despite, a better start from Schenk, especially at the front of the court, Cheng’s steadiness was the key to her success. My opponent was playing well all the way through and I was just returning. I lost my rhythm and presence on the court. She made just a few mistakes. I just wanted to do a lot but lost lots of energy,” admitted Schenk.

While the public probably expected a fierce and long battle between the two fighters, it was indeed a one-sided game in the second. Juliane Schenk running out of ideas to counter attack Cheng Shao Chieh, and committing mistakes after another, leading to a very tough scoreline of 21-5.

I played with no pressure,” said Cheng. I took a little bit of time to get adjusted to her game as her game is very different from the Asian way of playing, but once I got used to it, I was alright. But the score doesn’t show the real physiognomy of the match. It was harder than it shows.

Cheng Shao Chieh will now meet the world number two Wang Yihan, who is having another brilliant run, trying to make up for last year’s third round loss.

“For tomorrow’s final, I will just try my best; I have no pressure on my shoulders. I will play “free style” while she has some pressure. She beat me three times before, so I’ll do my best this time,” added the smiling Taipei veteran.

Full results HERE

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About Tarek Hafi