In a master vs apprentice battle, Lin Dan went down fighting to younger compatriot, Shi Yuqi in an all-China men’s singles final at the All England Open 2018 in Birmingham, England on Sunday. The seventh seeded Yuqi dropped the second game but came storming back to register a 21-19, 16-21, 21-9 win over the sixth seeded Lin in the summit clash that lasted 1 hour 14 minutes.
In his 10th final appearance at this venue, which itself is a record, Lin Dan was aiming for his seventh title to add to the ones that he won in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2016. A win over Shi Yuqi would have taken him closer to Indonesian great Rudy Hartono’s record haul of eight All England Open titles.
Instead, it was the 22-year-old Chinese, who turned the tables on the two-time Olympic champion a year after losing the final to Lee Chong Wei.
Interestingly, the two had met last year as well when Yuqi emerged a winner in straight games. He brought all that confidence into the final as he used to his piercing crosscourt shots and fabulous jump smashes to take the game away from Lin.
The World No. 6, who began the 2018 season by conquering the India Open, opened up a 7-4 lead as the 34-year-old struggled with his pace and power. Using his reverse slice, Lin opened up the court later on and fought back to trail by just one point at 18-19.
But Yuqi came up with his trademark jump smashes to eventually grab the opener, 21-19.
Lin upped the ante in the second game and showed more urgency in his shots. That rewarded him with an 18-15 advantage as he started anticipating and returning much better. The former World No. 1 was able to bank on those efforts to set up a decider.
However, Yuqi soon returned to form and raced ahead to 10-1 in a remarkable show of brutal aggression and precision. Lin reduced the deficit to seven points at 8-15 but it was definitely not enough to derail his younger opponent, who never relented.
In women’s singles, the top seed and World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying successfully defended her title with a 22-20, 21-13 win over the second seeded Akane Yamaguchi.Published 18 Mar 2018, 22:14 IST