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Tine Baun, Chen Long rule at All England

BADMINTON-GBR-DEN-THA

Tine Baun with the trophy

It all unfolded like a movie script – and as Tine Baun won the final point for her third All England Open title, she must have felt it was more dreamlike than anything she has ever experienced.

Baun had announced that the All England would be her final tournament, for it is her favourite. It was here, in 2008, that her career took off in a big way. But nobody would have imagined that Baun would end her career in the best way possible – by winning it. The Dane grew stronger and stronger towards the end of her final against Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, winning the match 21-14 16-21 21-10.

While Baun thrilled home fans, who look upon her as very much their own, they would have felt great disappointment at the loss of Lee Chong Wei, who, like Baun, was a two-time winner coming into the final. Chong Wei was off-colour for most of his encounter against China’s Chen Long, losing 21-17 21-18.

Chong Wei has been in four finals before this, winning two. With an incredible record in major finals, he would have been expected to nose ahead of Chen Long, who has steadily improved over the last two years. However, the fact that he did not begin at his best in the first round – he had to save two match points against Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki – meant that he was some way from his best.

And so it turned out as he found himself 0-7 down. Chong Wei was left chasing Long for the reminder of the game; although he tried gamely, he was unable to dictate proceedings in his usual aggressive manner. He looked tentative and half-a-step behind, which could be lethal against the explosive pace of Chen Long.

Chen Long

Chen Long

The second game started in the same way, but Chong Wei slowly worked his way in, and that was his best phase of the match. Trailing 6-11, he edged close to Long, finally catching up at 14. The match was stunning at this point – both players exploding off the ground to smash hard or to retrieve blinders. At 18-all Chen won a crucial point, and then he took the next two.

“The All England is very important; it is a world-class competition,” said Chen Long. “The win has given me a lot of confidence. It’s great to be here and the crowd has been very supportive.”

Earlier, Baun won a tactical battle against Ratchanok, who is 15 years younger than her. The 33-year-old was expected to be physically weary after a long semifinal match, but Baun seemed fresh at the start and used her big hitting to control proceedings. Although she had a poor spell in the second game, with some erratic play, the Dane reasserted herself, catching the Thai repeatedly deep in her forehand corner, and conjuring some delectable net shots to leave Ratchanok desperately short.

“This is my favourite tournament,” said Baun, “everybody has been so kind and cheering for me. I’m so proud because it’s so big. I love the fans… it’s such a great feeling. It’s the same people who have been coming here since my first win here (in 2008).”

Qiu Zihan and Liu Xiaolong (China) won the men’s doubles for the first time, while Yu Yang/Wang Xiaoli, also of China, took the women’s doubles.

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