Tai prevails in instant classic on Day 4 of YONEX All England

Tai is a three-time YONEX All England champion
Tai is a three-time YONEX All England champion

Three-time champion Tai Tzu Ying prevailed in an instant YONEX All England Open classic to reach the women’s singles semi-final, writes Milly McEvoy in Birmingham.

Up against the sixth seed He Bing Jiao of China, Tai lost the first game having twice led it before levelling the match in the second.

There was a bigger fightback to come as the Chinese Taipei athlete clawed herself from 8-0 down in the decider, eventually taking the win 16-21 21-16 22-20.

The sign of a true great was shown at the end as she helped He to her feet after the world No.6 fell while trying to save match point.

“Today was a really tough match, for example, in the third set I was down in terms of scoreline and then I went back up and led again,” Tai said.

“And towards the end she played really, really good and put out a very good performance.

“I think we both did our very best until the end, so when she tripped over, I hoped that she was ok and not injured, so I went over to see whether she was alright.”

Tai will meet Carolina Marin for the third time in an All England semi-final while Akane Yamaguchi advanced in a decider to meet An Se Young.

In the men’s singles, Christo Popov reached his first Super1000 semi-final with a 21-17 21-10 victory over Koki Watanabe.

The Frenchman made history by becoming the first men’s singles player from his country to make the All England Open last eight and is continuing to break new ground.

Popov will face Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia after he knocked out top seed Viktor Axelsen.

The Dane took the first set comfortably before Ginting came roaring back to take the match 8-21 21-18 21-19.

With the game poised at 18-18 in the decider, Axelsen disagreed with a call from the umpire, but Ginting, who got his first win over the World No.1 in 12 meetings, hopes the two can put their differences aside.

He said: "At the end of the match, I said sorry because I couldn't do anything in that moment because it was a call from the umpire.

“He said ‘Did you touch the net?’ but I said I didn't feel any touch at the net, I said I swear I didn't touch it.

“He said will you buy me a coffee after the match and we will see if it touched the net."

Selena Piek and Robin Tabeling of the Netherlands delivered another stunning performance to reach the mixed doubles last four for the first time.

The Dutch duo have come from behind in every one of their matches at the Utilita Arena, winning their quarter-final against Ye Hong Wei and Lee Chia Hsin 11-21 21-19 21-19.

Title holders Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong of China displayed the strength of their partnership in a 21-11 21-19 win over Dejan Ferdinansyah and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja.

Zheng said: "We complete each other, we have a really good interaction, she always supports me and I support her.

“We are a ‘we’, not an ‘I’ or ‘you’."

Another pair kept their defence alive as Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong beat out Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu of China 15-21 21-18 21-18.

The Korean duo showed grit to pull the game back and are rewarded with a place in the women’s doubles semi-finals.

Also advancing are their compatriots Baek Ha Na and Lee So Hee who knocked out Japan’s Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota 21-16 21-15.

The men’s doubles rounded out the day with Chinese Taipei’s Lee Jhe-Huei and Yang Po-Hsuan reaching the last four for the first time.

Defending champions Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto are safely through to the semi-finals having beaten Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of Chinese Taipei.

They will face Japan’s Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi while Lee and Yang will come up against world bronze medallists Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik of Malaysia.

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