(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
The underdogs steal the show
Date: 3/19/2022 6:22 PM
Published by : Yash Sharma
Four of the five semifinals in the first half were won by the lower-ranked players, as they toppled the favourites. 

It is only fitting that Dechapol Puavaranukroh/ Sapsiree Taerattanachai’s unprecedented run of 33 victories was ended by a pair who beat them thrice last year. The two-time former and defending champions Yuta Watanabe/ Arisa Higashino stepped it up on the biggest stage. An electric fast flat game played with supreme control unravelled the Thai pair. 

- They played a fast game and we could not control the shuttle. It was difficult to adjust to the drift, Taerattanachai explained. 

The pressure was too much for the world number ones as uncharacteristic mistakes trickled into their game. The Japanese reversed the World Championships final result 21-14, 21-15. 

Consequently, Watanabe is just one win away from an astounding fifth All England crown.

No comeback for TTY
Tai Tzu Ying has a penchant for throwing surprises, albeit a disappointing one today. Her All England campaign proved to be a roller-coaster ride: a struggling victory over Busanan Ongbamrungphan, followed by near-perfection against Nozomi Okuhara, and finally a derailed performance against in-form An Seyoung. 

A slow start was soon replaced by Tai’s magical ability to find winners on the return of serve. To her credit, the steady Korean athlete made it difficult for the world number one. Unable to steal the opener, Tai made increasingly more errors and was left frustrated.

- She is really stable. Since I was trailing, I tried to attack more but made a lot of mistakes, Tai was not happy. 

The Korean’s solid basic game saw her through 21-19, 21-13. 

- I am very happy with today’s outcome. I am young and still not the best player. I try to learn and have fun, An was her usual cool self. 

Can Fikri/ Maulana go all the way? 
Muhammad Fikri/ Bagas Maulana continue their dream run. Having already beaten the likes of Takuro Hoki/ Yugo Kobayashi and Ong Yew Sin/ Teo Ee Yi, they got the better of their seniors Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/ Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo today. 

- We are really happy with the result and hope to keep it going, Maulana smiled.

The Minions were also proud of their juniors’ extraordinary level.

- They have improved a lot since the last time. It was a hard match and they are catching up to us in training as well, Gideon beamed.

- It is awesome that Kevin and Gideon gave us so much respect. They are the world number ones, he continued.

The youngsters booked the finals spot with a 22-20, 13-21, 21-16 scoreline.

- We will run around the arena, the Indonesians promised if they win the title tomorrow. 

Spectacular Sen
Lakshya Sen made an incredible comeback in the decider to thwart the defending champion Lee Zii Jia in a thriller. Having beaten Viktor Axelsen last week, the youngster is more than fulfilling the predictions made for a junior prodigy. He won 21-13, 12-21, 21-19. 

- My team had a strategy and the tactics paid off in the opener. In the end, it was all about taking the chances, the Indian reflected.

Elsewhere, Nami Matsuyama/ Chiharu Shida avenged their German Open loss to Jeong Na Eun/ Kim Hye Jeong in a high-quality encounter. The Japanese chose speed over placement, which paid dividends against the typical Korean game style. They won 21-8, 21-12 in 51 minutes.

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