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All England: Taipei teen in semifinals

Dev Sukumar
747   //    10 Mar 2012, 17:18 IST

Multiple exposure shots of Tzu Ying Tai of Chinese Taipei in action during her singles match against Sung Ji Hyun of Korea on Friday

Lin Dan remained on course for a fifth All England title when he overcame longtime rival Taufik Hidayat with a measure of ease in the quarterfinal on Friday. With defending champion Lee Chong Wei also moving into the semifinals, a repeat of last year’s final – Lin Dan vs Chong Wei – is expected.

One result stood out on Friday – Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying made the semis beating Korean Sung Ji Hyun. TheTaipeiteen is a fast-rising youngster, and in her short career has already claimed the scalps of world No.1 Wang Yihan, world No.4 Saina Nehwal and world No.2 Wang Xin. In this tournament, she beat Indian qualifier PV Sindhu in three games and got past the tough German eighth seed, Julianne Schenk, in the second round. The Taipei girl is considered an exciting talent for her strokeful variety and deception, and if she can go further than the semis, she will have served early notice of her talent.

Tzu Ying’ s semifinal against seventh seed Li Xuerui will be interesting, for it pits skill against formidable physical ability. Xuerui’s height and sharp strokes dismantled Saina Nehwal in the quarterfinals.

Neither Korean veteran Lee Hyun Il – taking on Chong Wei – nor Kenichi Tago, who’s playing Lin Dan, are expected to upset the top two seeds. Of the two challengers, Tago might trouble Lin Dan, for he put out China’s no.2, Cheng Long, in the quarterfinals. It will be interesting to see if Tago can continue on that path and fulfil his potential – signs of which he first showed at this very tournament two years ago, when he beat two top Chinese on the way to the final.

Chen Long’s defeat by Tago was by far the biggest upset on the day, the 22-24 21-12 21-14 reflecting the closeness of the match between two men who are expected to contend for the biggest crowns in badminton over the next few years.

But they will have to put up with Lin Dan for a while yet. The great Chinese was in imperious touch against Taufik Hidayat, who fought well in the first game before folding in the second. The first game was a delight to watch, with Hidayat unravelling all the shots at his disposal and Lin Dan retrieving brilliantly. Only late in the game did Lin Dan show a surge of pace by which he went ahead, and the second game was then a formality for Taufik had been exhausted by the effort.

Singles match ups: 2-Lin Dan vs 7-Kenichi Tago; 1-Lee Chong Wei vs 8-LeeHyunIl

WS: 1-Wang Yihan vs 3-Wang Shixian; 7-Li Xuerui vs Tai Tzu Ying

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