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Shi becomes new YONEX All England Open champion

Twelve months ago, Shi Yuqi was a beaten finalist at the YONEX All England Open.

In 2018 he is a winner.

And not only is the 22-year-old a winner of the world’s oldest badminton tournament, he had to beat fellow Chinese player and legend of the game Lin Dan do get there.

The seventh seed in Birmingham has been in excellent form all week and continued that on finals day to prevail 21-19 16-21 21-9, defeating a colleague of the China national team.

“We were quite familiar with each other’s tactics and so I varied my normal technique in order to reach the level of performance today,” said Shi.

“I feel really happy after being another member of the China national team to win the All England men’s singles after Lin Dan and Chen Long.

“I feel really, really happy with this achievement.”

In a match of high quality, 34-year-old Lin took the lead in the first game but was soon overtaken by the man 12 years his junior.

With the pair level-pegging at 15-15 in the second, Lin turned on the style to take six of the next seven points and turn the game around.

But in the third there was only one winner, with Lin unsatisfied with his performance: “I think in the first two games it was a normal performance for both me and Shi, but I think in the third game there is a bit of a problem with mentality,” said Lin.

“I made more errors so I think that’s what I’m not very happy about.

“In my heart, if everything goes well I definitely want to come back in 2019 because I look forward to playing in the All England each year.”

Shi, beaten by Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei in the 2017 final, has had a superb run at the All England, beating top-ten seeds Chen Long, Son Wan Ho and now Lin on the way to the title.

The 22-year-old has a positive record against the superstar who some call the greatest of all time, and praised his opponent whilst conceding that he hadn’t grown up watching Lin play.

“To be honest, I didn’t watch that much badminton when I was growing up, I was practicing all the time!

“It’s really a great honour to defeat a champion, such a legend as Lin Dan, I feel really, really happy to do so.”

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