BIRMINGHAM, England (AFP) — China became the first nation ever to win all five titles in the open era at the All-England championships when Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng wrapped up the the men’s doubles 21-17, 21-15 against Korea’s Han Sang Hoon and Hwang Ji Man.
China had won all five in a world championship before, but that was in Beijing back in 1987, and this, in European conditions, was a far tougher task. It was also the first clean sweep in the open or amateur eras since 1948.
The success which really made it possible was that of Wang Yihan, the young unseeded player from Shanghai, who beat Tine Rasmussen, the top-seeded titleholder from Denmark, 21-19, 21-23, 21-11, and became the first to win the women’s singles at only the second attempt.
And the success which attracted the most attention was the repeat of the Olympic men’s singles final, in which Lin Dan again beat Lee Chong Wei, the world number one from Malaysia, in straight games, though this was a closer match than the one at the Games.
The Chinese star beat the ambitious, hard-working Malaysian 21-19, 21-12 after beginning rather patchily, then grabbing his first important chance, and accelerating away impressively towards the end.
Asked how or why he won, Lin said: “It wasn’t tactical or anything – we are both good players. It was more psychological. I was focused and calm.
“I think I played quite well. There were a couple of times in the first set where I didn’t handle the situation the best I could and let him have an advantage. But I kept my form and managed to play well.”
For a while in the first game Lin faltered unexpectedly. From leads of 8-2, 10-6, and 16-12 he began to make errors, not all of them forced, allowing Lee to nudge his way up to 19-17.
When he reached game point at 20-19, the rally was over in a flash, Lin serving accurately and following it up with a smash which got through immediately.
That increased the pressure on the Olympic silver medallist, who had been only too aware he had lost eight of their nine previous meetings.
And from 14-12 Lin went through to the finish in one magnificent run of seven points.
At the end, while shaking hands across the net, he pushed his face close to Lee’s to show his comradeship, but when he really wanted to win Lin showed another side of himself – explosive, dynamic, and very professional.
Wang’s win was victory for a good temperament, a good all-round game, and fresher, lighter movement.
“I didn’t have any pressure,” said Wang, who had looked relaxed most of the time except the end of the second game. “I just really tried to play what I know – and it’s nice to be able to do it that way.
“We both played well in the first two games, but in the third I think I was physically stronger and fitter.”
Rasmussen said: “I started playing again – after a heel injury – only three days before the tournament, so I am very satisfied with reaching the final. Of course when you get there you always want more.
“I could feel it wasn’t going in the right direction, even when I was winning, because the matches were going on too long. But before the tournament I would have guessed I would fall over on the court.”
Earlier He Hanbin and Yu Yang had won the mixed doubles, and Zhang Yawen and Zhao Tingting the women’s doubles.