Another YONEX All England Open finals day is done and with it we’ve seen several upsets, plenty of drama and above, all some of the best badminton the world can offer.
Tai Tzu Ying defended her women’s singles crown, Shi Yuqi beat sporting superstar Lin Dan and Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl sealed their long-desired crown.
Fan favourites Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo also defended their 2017 title but finals day started with the crowning of new winners and one for the history books as Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino become the first-ever Japanese mixed doubles champions.
The young pairing defeated fifth seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong 15-21 22-20 21-16, overcoming the experienced Chinese players with the unrelenting pace of their game.
“I’m happy that we are the first winner of the mixed doubles here for Japan but we are not going to be satisfied by this result,” said Higashino, 21.
“We will be determined to come back next year and win again.”
Next up at Arena Birmingham came Tai and Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, who gave an energetic performance but lost out 22-20 21-13 to the Chinese Taipei champion, who seems unbeatable at times.
The two finalists were evenly-matched throughout the first game, with Tai dominating the rest of the match after coming back from 20-19 down in the opener.
If the Indonesian fans supporting Gideon and Sukamuljo created the noisiest atmosphere of the day, then perhaps Pedersen and Rytter Juhl created one of the most special moments.
The experienced Danish pair have been winning titles on the world circuit since 2012 but the prestigious All England crown is the one that’s proved elusive.
Rytter Juhl and Pedersen prevailed 21-19 21-18 over Japan’s Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota in Sunday’s final, sending the crowd into raptures in one of those sporting moments that will love long in the memory for anybody who was there to witness it.
“I don’t win titles every day or every month but today, it was really, really special and you can say we’ve been hunting a trophy like this!” said Pedersen.
“Finally, to stand here with the trophy and with the gold medal is just the best feeling.”
Shi, just 22-years-old, was beaten by Lee Chong Wei in last year’s final but overcame that disappointment and a match against one of the game’s greatest talents – Lin Dan – to take the men’s singles title.
Shi came out on top 21-19 16-21 21-9 and then in the last match of 2018, Gideon and Sukamuljo came out on court to raucous applause to take on Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen.
The excitement was palpable at times and some of the best rallies of the week were left until this superb men’s doubles final, with the Indonesian pair closing it out with a 21-18 21-17 victory.
“I’m really happy that a lot of fans came from all over the place, from London and some from Scotland. I’m so happy that they came to support me so thank-you to them very much,” said Gideon.
“I’m really happy and it’s like a dream come true for me. All England is a prestigious tournament. It’s very historic, so to be able to win the title again; we just didn’t expect it.”
The world's best badminton players are in Birmingham for the YONEX All England (14-18 March). For tickets, TV schedule results, & reaction: allenglandbadminton.com