Lin, Shi set up all-Chinese All England badminton final


Birmingham (United Kingdom) (AFP)

Lin Dan closed in on a seventh men's singles title at the Badminton All-England Open championships when he reached Sunday's final with a 21-14, 13-21, 21-11 victory over Chinese compatriot Huang Yuxiang.

If the 34-year-old beats another Chinese opponent, the seventh seeded Shi Yuqi, he will move to within one title of Rudy Hartono?s record eight All-England titles, although the Indonesian?s successes occurred before the Open era.

Lin is already assured of one record, though, after booking his place in a 10th All England final.

He was far from his brilliant best in Saturday's semi-final, however, as the unseeded Huang took advantage of a temporary drop in Lin's standard of play to take his illustrious opponent to a deciding game.

But Lin turned on the style again in the third game, with some clever changes of pace, and sudden penetrating attacks, exuding a confidence which suggested the result was never in doubt.

?I think I played quite well,? he said. ?I did make some mistakes and that was one of the reasons why I lost the second game. But all my colleagues have been playing well here.

?I will try to continue what I am doing and I hope that tomorrow I will take a new record,? he said, referring to the Open era benchmark.

His opponent on Sunday, Shi Yuqi, made sure there will be a Chinese winner when he beat Son Wan Ho, the fifth seeded Korean 21-17, 21-14, to reach the final for the second successive year.

There could be a record in the women?s singles too, after Akane Yamaguchi, the World Super Series titleholder from Japan, reached the final in an exhausting one-hour 20-minutes encounter with Pusarla Sindhu, the Olympic silver medallist from India, eventually prevailing 19-21, 21-19, 21-18.

If Yamaguchi has enough energy left to beat Tai Tzu-ying, the top-seeded titleholder from Taiwan, she will become the first All-England women?s singles champion from Japan since Hiroe Yuki in 1977, when the game was still officially amateur.

Tai beat eighth-seeded Chen Yufei of China 21-15, 20-22, 21-3.

Yamaguchi snatched the second game with a dramatic net cord, and then fought back from 7-13 down in the decider.

?There were moments when I wanted to quit,? Yamaguchi said. ?The rallies were so tough, but I tried to hang in and keep up.

"Then I changed my mind, and just tried not to make mistakes. I think that saved me. Now I have a great opportunity.?