Birmingham: On a day of upsets in the All England semi-finals on Saturday, two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan showed why he has been regarded as the greatest badminton player of all time when he put up a flawless show in last two sets to fend off the fight back from his junior Xue Song to reach the final.
Lin who is seeking for his sixth All England title, dropped the first set to Xue Song 16-21. After led by 15-14 in the second set, Lin Dan produced several beautiful shots and pulled away to win the second set 21-15.
Upping his pace in the decider, Lin Dan did not give away any easy chances, even after the 22-year-old Xue Song called a time-out when trailed 4-10 due to leg cramps. After the short break, Lin continued his dominance as he mauled his younger compatriot with a masterclass of clean hitting in a one-sided blowout, winning the third set 21-9 in a match that lasted 82 minutes. Lin Dan held a 2-0 career meeting record against Xue after the semi-finals win.
Lin will play another Chinese shuttler, Tian Houwei in the final. Tian was forced to work hard before he earned a hard-fought win against Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark with 15-21, 21-14, 21-14.
All other top seeds of the tournament spent Saturday under a dark cloud as none of them made it to the finals.
In men’s doubles, World No. 1 Lee Yong-Dae/Yoo Yeon-Seong suffered a semi-final upset against Russians Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov, losing 21-14, 17-21, 15-21. The Russian pair will play Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa of Japan in the final. The sixth seeded Japanese pair breezed past Malaysians Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong 21-13, 21-15 in other men’s doubles semi-final.
Carolina Marin, the women’s singles top seed and reigning World Champion was also defeated in the semi-finals, losing to eighth seeded Nozomi Okuhara 21-11, 16-21, 14-21 in 72 minutes.
Nozomi Okuhara will play Chinese shuttler Wang Shixian in the women’s singles final.
No. 1 mixed doubles pair Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei was other big name to make a semi-final exit as they were ousted by Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto 19-21, 16-21. Jordan/Susanto will clash with Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen of Denmark for the mixed doubles title on Sunday.
Japanese Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi wrapped up the upset-filled day by picking off No. 1 women’s doubles pair Luo Ying/Luo Yu under fading light with 21-12, 21-9 to storm to the final. However, tough fight awaits the No. 3 seeds Matsutomo/Takahashi as No. 6 seeds Tang Yuanting/Yu Yang of China will be waiting for the Japanese pair in the final.