PARIS : Tine Baun, who defied the might of China to regain the All-England Open title in March, is looking to perform similar defiance at the world championships after reaching the semi-finals.
The performance of the former world number one from Denmark during a well-taken 21-18, 21-13 win on Friday over Cheng Shao-Chieh, the unseeded Taiwanese player, put her in a much-improved position to go all the way.
It was Baun’s best performance in five months, during which back problems and then a prolonged heel injury seriously hampered her preparations for this week.
"It’s amazing that after four months (of injury) I can still play like this," said Baun.
"I had to concentrate on trying to play my game, but there were times when I had to play in other ways and it’s good that I could do this as well as still succeed."
Baun was sometimes distracted by Cheng’s troublesome foot, which forced her to walk with a spectacular limp, even though it appeared only to be a burst blister which caused blood to pour over her sock.
"I think maybe she played on that a bit," said Baun with a smile.
"She was maybe saying I am having pain and it’s difficult for me. But when it came to the rallies she was still moving fast, and I had to keep my focus on that."
Cheng actually moved with tremendous pace, often getting the match played with fast, flat mid-court exchanges and denying Baun opportunities to use her powerful smash and shorten the rallies.
The direction of the contest could have gone either way when Cheng came back from a four-point deficit to 18-18 but Baun managed to fight and defend her way to survival.
By the second game, she was more relaxed and playing her usual her aggressive style.
"Actually I already felt better and more relaxed today than yesterday," she said, referring to her difficult struggle against Petya Nedelcheva of Bulgaria.
"I think I raised my level today and I feel more confident about raising my level again tomorrow. I feel much more calm."
Baun is also pleased – though she didn’t say so – that she will have avoided having a semi-final with Wang Yihan, the top-seeded Chinese player who beat her in the 2009 All-England Open final.
Instead, Baun will be against either Eriko Hirose, the tenth-seeded Japanese player who beat Wang, or the seventh seeded Chinese, Wang Lin – possibly giving the fourth-seeded Dane a slightly better chance of reaching her first world final.
Earlier, the world mixed doubles champions, Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, from Denmark, lost their title when they lost a quarter-final 21-19, 21-17 to He Hanbin and Yu Yang, the sixth-seeded pair from China.