Lin Dan closes on seventh All-England crown

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Lin Dan, widely regarded as the greatest badminton player of all time, closed in on his seventh singles title at the All-England Open by reaching the final with a 21-14, 13-21, 21-11 victory over fellow Chinese Huang Yuxiang Saturday.

Lin next meets seventh-seeded compatriot Shi Yuqi, 22, who followed up his win over Olympic champion Chen Long with a 21-17, 21-14 triumph against Son Wan Ho, the fifth-seeded Korean.

There rarely seemed much doubt about the outcome in the second semi-final even though Huang took advantage of a temporary drop in standards by Lin, launching heavy aerial attacks in the second game.

When Lin was at his best he was superb, capable of turning defense into lightning attack and able to find wonderful angles and changes of pace to disrupt his opponent. And his best always seemed a flick of a switch away.

The 34-year-old Lin is bidding to move within one of Rudy Hartono’s record eight titles, although the Indonesian player’s successes came before the sport went open.

Lin is already certain of one record, no-one has contested 10 singles finals before.

“I did make some mistakes and that was one of the reasons why I lost the second game,” he said. “I will try to continue what I am doing and hope that tomorrow I will take a new record.”

Akane Yamaguchi, the World Super Series title holder, reached the women’s final by defeating Pusarla Sindhu, the Olympic silver medallist from India, 19-21, 21-19, 21-18.

If Yamaguchi overcomes Tai Tzu-ying, the reigning champion from Taiwan, she will become the first All-England women’s singles winner from Japan since Hiroe Yuki in 1977.

Yamaguchi lost the first six points of the match, snatched the second game with a dramatic net cord, and fought back from 13-7 down in the decider.

“I almost wanted to accept defeat because the rallies were so tough but I changed my mind,” she said.

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