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YONEX All England Finals set as Yamaguchi battles through epic

Akane Yamaguchi battled to a stirring 21-10 19-21 21-14 semi-final victory over defending women’s singles champion An Se Young.

The Korean showed signs of injury while Yamaguchi dealt with fatigue as the match stretched to 82 minutes.

An fought valiantly as the pair produced sensational rally after sensational rally but Yamaguchi ultimately came out on top to reach her third final.

Yamaguchi will meet Carolina Marin as the Spaniard advanced to her first All England final since she won the title in 2015.

Marin beat three-time champion Tai Tzu Ying 21-13 21-12 in what was the Chinese Taipei athlete’s final All England game before she retires later this year.

“It’s not about winning or losing the game,” she said. “I want to keep the focus on the things that I have to improve mentally and physically and about the game.

“Sometimes you have to take a little bit of a risk to do something new in the game.

“Sometimes you can feel nervous or scared to do new things, but you have to do that because otherwise the opponent knows how to play against you.

“That is something that I’m doing this week and I feel proud about that.”

As the first session stretched into its seventh hour, the fans stayed to watch two crowd favourites go to the fourth decider of the day in the men’s singles.

Jonatan Christie of Indonesia advanced to his first final after beating India’s Lakshya Sen 21-12 10-21 21-15.

He will face his teammate and good friend Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in the final after he produced a composed 19-21 21-5 21-11 victory over Christo Popov.

The Frenchman powered to the first game with three points on the spin but was on the backfoot early in the second as he conceded 13 consecutive points.

In the decider, the Indonesian was able to open up a healthy margin to see out the match.

He said: “It is my very first All England final and I want to say how happy and grateful I am to get another big win today, hopefully tomorrow I can give my very best too.”

Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida triumphed in all-Japanese women’s doubles semi-finals as they look to reclaim the title they won in 2022.

Up against Rena Miyaura and Ayako Sakuramoto, the sixth seeds were never more than a point behind their opponents.

They did require four attempts to close out the first game but took the match at the first time of asking to prevail 21-15 21-12.

The second women’s double semi-final was a much closer affair as defending champions Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong went up against the pair they beat in the final last year, Lee So Hee and Baek Ha Na.

This year, Lee and Baek got revenge over their fellow Koreans, triumphing 21-17 18-21 21-16 to reach a second All England final.

Baek said: “I learned it is the 125th anniversary of All England this year, so it’s very meaningful to be able to play at the final in such a prestigious game, it means so much to me.

“Since we are in the final we would like to put out a good game.”

Three-time champions Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino of Japan eased into the final with a 21-13 21-16 win over Robin Tabeling and Selena Piek, who saw their fairytale run come to an end.

Watanabe and Higashino will go up against defending champions Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong of China who beat their compatriots Feng Yan Zhe and Huang Dong Ping of 21-14 21-13.

Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik have returned to the men’s doubles final in Birmingham for the first time since 2019.

The Malaysian pair beat Lee Jhe-Huei and Yang Po-Hsuain of Chinese Taipei 21-16 21-15 in the semi-finals.

The last time they were in the All England final, Soh and Chia lost to Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, this time they will face their compatriots Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto as they chase a first Super 1000 title.

“We are very happy we are back in a final here after five years, we have to get the last one tomorrow,” Chia said

Wooi added: “We are stronger and more mature now, years ago we were still young and had to adapt to play against the top teams, now we are top level.”

For Alfian and Ardianto, Sunday presents the chance to defend their title having beaten Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi of Japan.

The final match of the day looked destined to head to a decider with the Indonesians nine points down.

But the sixth seeds reeled off seven consecutive points to seal a 21-18 21-18 victory and secure a place in the final.


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