ALL ENGLAND 2012 SF – Setting meetings with friends, rivals

The semi-finals of the 102th edition of the Yonex All England started with a hint of redness – as the Chinese flag flew high, with only 3 matches featuring non-Chinese […]

The semi-finals of the 102th edition of the Yonex started with a hint of redness – as the Chinese flag flew high, with only 3 matches featuring non-Chinese players – and ended up with a promising final to come between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan.

By Kira Rin. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Mixed doubles – End of a dream

Malaysian pair Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying had the bad luck of first round exits in their previous 2 All England. This was not the case to be this year as the pair advanced all the way into the semi finals. Having come all the way, the pair was also prepared to advance fully to the finals at all costs. No quarter was spared as they rallied hard against experienced Liliyana Natsir (photo)  and Tontowi Ahmad to 20  all until the experienced Indonesians tucked the shuttle away 27-25. But the Malaysians could have ended it on many occasions, wasting some game points with stupid mistakes – maturity still needs to sink in for this very talented pair – probably Malaysia’s best mixed double in 10 years. Even in the second game, their willpower did not waver and were even able to close a 6 point deficit to 1 point less. However, in the end, experience counted and the Indonesians popped their fairytale run to book a ticket to the finals.   The Indonesians will take on Denmark’s Laybourn and Rytter-Juhl in the final as the Danes edged out the reigning champions in straight games.

Meanwhile, a battle of Wangs raged on the court next door, showing off their almost perfect placement and retrieval of shots.  In a almost see saw battle, Wang Yihan let slip the first game before taking the next 2 with identical scores of 21 18 to seek yet another crack at a second title.  Taiwan youngster Tai Tzu Ying (photo) was only able to take a game of Li Xuerui, before running out of energy in the next 2, thus failing to prevent an all Chinese finals.

Lee and Lin again

Being the top singles shuttlers of their respective countries, it would seem to be destiny for the 2 Lee’s  paths to cross many a time in the build-up to the Thomas Cup and Olympics.  Both Lee Chong Wei and Lee Hyun Il played superb badminton, with barely a margin for error in their shots. There were also the occasional doubts over line calls when one or the other hit a shot too close to the line. A single net error from Hyun Il sent the first game to Chong Wei’s side. The second game was no different, with attack and defense changing hands many times, both forcing their pace onto the match. The older Lee Hyun Il, however felt his age catching up as the match drew on, and clearly felt his accuracy wavering.

With Chong Wei having a 10-point lead, Hyun Il resorted to brute force and quick shots to claw his way back into the match. With raw power and desperation on his side, Hyun Il was able to close up the gap only for Chong Wei to counter attack and seize the match on the last few opportunities and head to his fourth consecutive final.

The expected final against Lin Dan will take place as expected for another clash of the titans: the last match of the day featured Super Dan facing down dark horse Kenichi Tago (photo) of Japan. Both players have many reasons for staking their place in the finals. For Kenichi, it would be the hope for a rematch against Lee Chong Wei for a chance to avenge his loss in the 2010 All England final. For Lin Dan, it will be a meeting with an old friend and rival, and also a chance of pulling a double of All England and Olympic titles. The great Lin Dan was able to set an appointment in the finals, but it was not an easy path as Kenichi put up a great fight, keeping a close tab on points and forcing Super Dan to push to finish his game faster in case a third game came to pass.  The Chinese, quite relaxed during the game, was also patient to answer the media questions and once again said he was not under any kind of pressure anymore.

I’m here to enjoy my game, and give a good time to the spectators.  Of course, I still want to win, but it’s not what matters the most. Tomorrow will be another match against Chong Wei. Sometimes he wins, sometimes I do. Each match is different so I don’t think that the outcome will have an effect on the Olympic Games,” said Lin.

Men’s doubles – What could possibly go wrong?

With Korea’s only chance in men’s singles out, Lee Yong Dae was bent on saving his senior’s reputation by claiming a title in his place. Playing well-placed shots and deceptive net play, the long-time Korean partners were able to kick off the match on a comfortable first game lead. And on the wrong end of the smashes, mistakes popping up, racquet strings being broken left and right, and Mathias Boe even cracking his racquet in frustration, almost everything in the book was going wrong for the Danes. Even putting aside all the bad luck, Mathias Boe (photo) and Carsten Mogensen could only bare their fangs a short while before Lady Luck handed the match to a victorious Lee and Jung, 21-14, 21-13.  The Koreans have set a mouth-watering final against China’s Cai and Fu.

The infamous pair of Fu Haifeng and Cai Yun showed the Japanese pair their might as they bombed their way into a easy 21-10 first game. Hashimoto and Hirata had other plans for the second game, and attacked abnormally fast, upsetting the Chinese’s pace, even confusing Fu over which direction to run to change his racquet. Bit by bit, Cai and Fu found their pace again and turned the tables to book another meeting with old and familiar rivals.

Sunday will mark the first time in their 24 meetings that the world’s two best pairs will play on the All England stage.

Women’s doubles – Red hair vs red flag

True to herself, Ha Jung Eun showed off her fiery attacking side, embodied by the bright red hair she recently dyed. Alongside partner Kim Min Jung, (photo) the pair strove hard to place many shots past the Chinese pair. One however, should not forget that the Chinese have their own red as well, in the form of their red flag.  Experienced Zhao Yunlei and partner Tian Qing were also just as ferocious in their attacks and managed to just take the first game 21-19. The fierce attacks continued into the second game and it was just a moment’s hesitation that cost the Koreans dearly, as Zhao and Tian smashed into another all-Chinese final.  Wang Xiaoli, alongside Yu Yang,  took down their juniors in 2 very short games lasting a mere total of 27 minutes.

Finals line-up (in that order)

Wang Yihan (CHN) vs Li Xuerui (CHN)
Ahmad/Natsir (INA) vs Laybourn/Rytter-Juhl (DEN)
Wang/Yu (CHN) vs Tian/Zhao (CHN)
Cai/Fu (CHN) vs Jung/Lee (KOR)
Lee Chong Wei (MAS) vs Lin Dan (CHN)

All Results here

Click here for live streamed coverage of the All England from the BWF’s Youtube channel

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About Kira Rin