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All England: Gladiatorial action today!

Lee Yong Dae (right) and Jung Jae Sung have been in tremendous form over the last year

The All England, as expected, will provide us the perfect appetizer for the Olympics. Four-time All England champ Lin Dan takes on defending champion Lee Chong Wei in a repeat of last year’s clash. This is a match of fascinating possibilities and might be one to savour for the ages.

But the final day’s action is not just about the men’s singles. Just as fascinating will be the men’s doubles – pitting two of the greatest teams of our times: China’s Cai Yun/ Fu Haifeng versus Lee Yong Dae/ Jung Jae Sung ofKorea. Then there is the women’s singles, showcasing the prodigious talent of the young Li Xuerui against the already-accomplished Wang Yihan.

The Chinese have assured themselves of two titles at least: in the women’s singles and women’s doubles. If Lin Dan and Cai/ Fu win, they will return with four out of the five titles, as the mixed doubles will go either to Denmark (Thomas Laybourn/ Kamilla Rytter) orIndonesia (Tontowi Ahmad/ Lilyana Natsir).

Lee Chong Wei will play for pride. The All England title has lend weight to his career’s accomplishments, as he has lost the other big ones to his own fragile temperament and the brilliance of his great opponent Lin Dan. It was at the All England last year that he showed he could beat Lin Dan in the final of a tournament of this stature. Unfortunately for him, against the same opponent in the World Championships, despite holding two match points, Chong Wei faltered and will probably have to live with the tag of ‘choker’ all his life.

He has a few months to redeem himself in the eyes of his critics. The All England will provide the first test, to be followed by the Olympics. Chong Wei goes in as favourite today, considering his track record here, but it will be interesting to see how Lin Dan approaches the match. The loss to Chong Wei in last year’s final might have rankled, and there is no dangerous player than Lin Dan with a score to settle. It could be  a long match.

(Catch the semifinals at: http://www.badmintonlink.com/Watch-Videos/2012_Yonex_All_England_Semi_Final)

Li Xuerui blew aside Saina Nehwal in the quarterfinals, and then gutsed it out against the talented Taipei youngster Tai Tzu Ying. By the look of things, she will be reaching the finals of many more tournaments. If the match is on the level, it will be interesting to see how the more experienced Wang Yihan handles her younger compatriot’s reach and steep smashes that Saina fought so hard to return.

The men’s doubles (Cai/ Fu vs Yong Dae/ Jae Sung) might be a thriller, just like so many of their past encounters. Who can forget the 2009 World Championships final that went on and on, with the Chinese finally claiming victory? Yong Dae and Jae Sung have had the advantage in recent tournaments, but Cai and Fu belong to the same exalted category as Lin Dan, and will fight every inch.


Matches: (5.30pm IST)

WS: 1-Wang Yihan vs 7-Li Xuerui

XD: 4-Tontowi/ Lilyana (INA) vs 8-Laybourn/ Kamilla Rytter (DEN)

WD: 1-Wang Xiaoli/ Yu Yang (CHN) vs 2-Qing Tian/ Zhao Yunlei (CHN)

MD: 1-Cai Yun/ Fu Haifeng (CHN) vs 2-Lee Yong Dae/ Jung Jae Sung (KOR)

MS: 1-Lee Chong Wei (MAS) vs 2-Lin Dan (CHN)

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