Day 4 of the All England Championships produced scintillating badminton, almost every match going down to the wire. Ratchanok Intanon and Sun Yu began the proceedings with quick-fire game play, trading points and games equally. But the match ended sadly, with Ratchanok having to retire with an injury . Zhang/Zao though, were the first semi-finalists, beating Kim/Ko in an edge of the seat thriller 21-19,25-23 in the mixed doubles. Jordan/Susanto then proved their upsets weren’t any fluke in the men’s doubles as they beat Danes Kolding/Juhl 20-22,21-19,21-14.
The Danes opened their semis account with Nielsen/Pedersen beating Lu/Huang 21-17,21-15. Lin Dan then stepped on court to take on an in form Kento Momota . Momota showed he is a man for the future as he made the 5th seed sweat for every point. Lin Dan eventually set-up a dream semi-final with Chen Long, winning 21-18,21-19. Chen Long then finished Part 2, with an easy 21-11,21-11 victory over Chou Tien Chen. The kind of form that Chen Long is in, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can stop him. If Lin Dan can re-create his old magic and stop the rampaging Chinese will have to be seen. Saina then walked into the lime-light. A quarter-final clash with Wang Yihan, against whom she never had a proper win barring one retirement in 9 matches.
The first game lived up to all the expectations of a cracker. There was nothing separating the both as they played long-rallies, waiting for the other to make the mistakes. Ready to take more risks than her nemesis, Saina just pocketed the first game 21-19. There were nervous moments though, as Wang saved 3 game points before giving in. Just as everyone was expecting a long night, Saina raised the bar in the second game. She was confidence personified, playing beautiful cross-shots and dribbling wonderfully at the net, taking an 8-0 lead before Wang could open her account. The 3rd seed didn’t let her back in the game though. She increased her lead, placing the shuttle with pin-point accuracy and catching the Chinese on the wrong foot. Clinical finishing left no doubt as who would win the match, the Hyderabadi comprehensively taking the second game 21-6. The 5th seed was completely out-classed by the Indian. If Saina continues in this form, she can surely write history at the All England Championships.
The spirits of the home crowd were dampened when the Adcocks went down to favourites Ahmad/Natsir 14-21,21-18,19-21. They then tried inspiring Rajiv Ouseph to a first ever All England semi-final, but Sho Sasaki was too good for him winning 21-14,21-11. The all Dane clash followed a similar script with Jorgensen getting the better of Axelsen 24-22,21-14. Carolina Marin proved why she is World Champion, beating Sung Ji Hyun 21-18,22-20 winning the points that mattered, shouting her way into the semis.The “Mads”, Petersen/Kolding booked a place in the last 4 too, beating Sanjaya/Fernaldi 21-11 10-21 21-13.
The prestigious championship has thrown up many new stars, badminton players who are not overwhelmed by the names or occasion. With each match being tighter than the previous, it’s hard not to be hooked to the action. Who will win the Chinese Dream Semi-final? Can Saina take a step closer to history? Will Nielsen/Pedersen continue their ominous form? We’ll have to wait, just a bit.
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