ALL ENGLAND 2012 SF – Thomas and Kamilla back on top

Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter-Juhl secured a spot for the final of the Yonex All England by stunning title-holders Xu Chen and Ma Jin after a splendid performance. They will […]

Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter-Juhl secured a spot for the final of the Yonex by stunning title-holders Xu Chen and Ma Jin after a splendid performance. They will try to go one step further than their 2005 final when they lost to Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson.

By Raphael Sachetat, live from Birmingham. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter-Juhl (photo) spent almost as much time answering questions from the media as they spent on court against one of the best pairs in the world – namely Xu Chen and Ma Jin, winners here last year. The Danes were obviously proud of an amazing level of play with which they beat the Chinese 21-18, 21-16.

The score doesn’t really reflect the game as it was really tough to beat them today. But we had the right tactic going for us and we stuck to it. We remained calm and sure of our game and it troubled them. Joachim [Fischer] and Christinna [Pedersen] have played and beaten this pair before so our coaches had some good advice for us as well,” said Thomas Laybourn.

“We’re back at our top level”

The Danes were all smiles after such a victory, especially since they had ups and downs in the past few months, due mainly to Thomas’s injuries.

It’s been tough these past months as I have had a lot of injuries. I’ve still played a lot of tournaments, but the training hasn’t been so tough lately.  This is why we weren’t expecting to play like last week in Germany and this week again. It’s pretty amazing that we are able to reach this level, which I believe is close to our top level. It’s difficult to wake up every morning with such a crazy schedule, but it’s worth it when we play like this,” said Laybourn.

This victory comes in at the right time as the Danes had played below par in the first two Super Series events of the year, losing to Russia’s Sorokina and Nikolaenko in Malaysia, then in Korea to Xu Chen and Ma Jin – a pair they’d never beaten until now. Their best All England result was in 2005 when they were beaten by Robertson and Emms, which was the last time a European pair had come on top of the mixed doubles event. And this year will mark the first time since then that a pair outside China wins the tournament.

We are really thrilled about this victory and of course, now, we have the final to play tomorrow which will be tough – both pairs have beaten us in the past – but we’ll fight for every point. And of course, we have the Olympics in the back of our minds,” added Rytter Juhl. Later in the evening, Indonesia’s Ahmad and Natsir were to take on Malaysia’s Goh and Chan.

Chong Wei goes for hat trick

Not many players can leave Lee Chong Wei (photo) one metre away from the shuttle. Lee Hyun Il can and he proved it in the first game of his semi-final against the Malaysian, with defense which reminded of his hey-day. Even Chong Wei looked puzzled when some of his hard down-the-line smashes came back even faster, cross-court, landing on the floor a couple of metres away from him.

And the first game was a pure delight for the crowd – well-entertained by a large group of Malaysian spectators using drums and songs to lift their hero’s spirits. The first game was very tight and it was only because Hyun Il committed a few direct errors that the Malaysian could get away with a 21-18 success. The second game was not as intense with the Korean having trouble finding the right length of shuttles at the beginning, while Chong Wei became as confident as ever, but Lee Hyun Il started to fight back and score point after point to close up at 16-18, after being down by 9 points. The stadium then sounded like Bukit Jalil, with flags everywhere and loud cheering for the title-holder. Lee Chong Wei finally got away with the victory 21-19, 21-18. Lin Dan and Kenichi Tago were to fight on later for the other final spot.

Meanwhile, Wang Yihan was the first to book her ticket to the final after beating her compatriot Wang Shixian in three magnificent games 20-22, 21-18, 21-18.

All results HERE

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Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.