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M’sia Lee Chong Wei into first All-England final

Posted on: March 8, 2009


By Richard Eaton – 30 mins ago

Photo by Malaysia Today.com

lee-chong-wei-by-malaysia-todayBIRMINGHAM, England (AFP) – Lee Chong Wei signalled his determination to atone for his defeat in the Olympic final in Beijing six months ago with an impressive performance in reaching the final of the All-England Open for the first time.

The top-seeded Malaysian destroyed Taufik Hidayat, the former Olympic and world champion from Indonesia 21-8, 21-13 in little more than half an hour in a match in which the outcome was almost never in doubt.

True, Hidayat looked a little slow after his superb but tiring performance in bringing down Peter Gade, the former world number one from Denmark, the day before, and going to three games with England’s Andrew Smith the day before that.

But Lee was explosive in attack, resilient in defence, and occasionally inspired as he contained the best shots that his celebrated opponent could throw at him.

The first game was one way traffic, partly because Taufik’s error ratio was so high. The second saw Taufik play much better, and Lee’s standard improved by even more.

The highlight was a sensational rally at 13-12, when Taufik was well in the match, but no matter how hard he tried to push for a winner with smashes and attempted kills, Lee plunged around the court and got everything back.

The Malaysian then played an express sequence of piston-like mid-court exchanges, and finished the point with a winning jab.

That took the momentum out of Taufik’s partial recovery, and it was not long before Lee was making rapid progress, often with smashes to the body, which sometimes exposed the Indonesian as a little slow.

“Everyone wants to see a repeat of the Olympic final,” said Lee afterwards. “And I will do my best. If I do play him it will be a difficult match.”

Lin Dab was due to play Chen Jin, the defending All-England champion from China, in the other semi-final.

Meanwhile, the women’s top seed, Tine Rasmussen, made an astonishing recovery to carry her title defence into the final.

The world number one from Denmark had looked a beaten player when she trailed by a game and 6-15, and then 9-17, but she came back to win 22-24, 25-23, 21-15 against Jian Yanjiao, the unseeded Chinese player.

Rasmussen also saved match points at 19-20 and 22-23 in the second game, forsaking her usual robust attacking style and floating the shuttle around with pushes, clears and lifts, and gradually working her way back into it.

She managed to coax errors from her less experienced 22-year-old opponent, and by the time she had edged forward from 8-8 in the final game to 14-10 and 15-11 it had become evident she had the patience and determination to see the recovery through till the end.

Earlier however, nothing had seemed less likely. After missing a game point for the first game with a missed net shot from well above the height of the net, Rasmussen appeared to sink into a depression.

Her body language slumped and her ability to attack diminished, perhaps the result of a heel injury which hampered her All-England preparation for two weeks.

But during the interval between games she was encouraged to fight by Morten Frost, the four times former All-England champion from Denmark, who also kept up a constant barrage of encouragement during the second half of the match.

Rasmussen will play in the final the winner between her compatriot, Nanna Brosolat, a qualifier, and Wang Yihan, another young unseeded Chinese player.

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