Lin Dan recovers to reach All-England final

The 32-year-old two-times Olympic champion, who hopes to win the sport's oldest title again as part of his bid to qualify for the Rio Games this year, came through a strange, soporific match by 18-21, 21-15, 21-9 against his unseeded Chinese compatriot, Xue Song.

China's Lin Dan in action at the All England Open Badminton Championships.   -  REUTERS

Lin Dan, badminton's biggest legend, recovered from a game down for the second day in succession, to reach his first All-England final for four years on Saturday.

The 32-year-old two-times Olympic champion, who hopes to win the sport's oldest title again as part of his bid to qualify for the Rio Games this year, came through a strange, soporific match by 18-21, 21-15, 21-9 against his unseeded Chinese compatriot, Xue Song.

For long periods Lin unaccountably made little attempt to put the shuttle on the floor, and instead became involved in lengthy clearing and lifting rallies which extended the contest to fully 82 minutes.

The day before Lin lost the first game to Jan Jorgensen, the fifth seeded Dane, but once his recovery had gathered momentum finished the match with brilliant combinations.

Now he seemed more concerned to avoid mistakes and perhaps to wear his opponent down. Certainly Xue, who tenaciously, needed a lengthy pause in the middle of the final game to recover from cramp and there was never much doubt after this that Lin would prevail.

"I don't know why I have lost the first games in these matches," said Lin. "And today I think I made a major mistake. I don't know why that happened. It shouldn't happen. I really need to go away and find out.

"I am pleased though with the way I came back. It proved that my winter training is effective and has improved my physical resources."

It was also notable that Lin started each game with great speed and hustled his opponent into errors, leading 10-4 in the first game, 4-0 in the second game, but allowing Xue back to parity both times.

During these phases he seemed content to play a cat and mouse game, which led to some monster rallies and a battle of patience and consistency. But from 9-4 in the decider the pace of Lin' progress increased as Xue tired.

"Mentally I think I was a little soft today," Xue reckoned, though it didn't look that way. "It's really about my willingness to fight rather than my lack of experience."

Lin's bid for a sixth All-England title left was left with the possibility of finishing with another all-Chinese encounter. His compatriot Tian Houwei, the eighth seed, was due to play Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, the surprise survivor from Denmark, in the other semi-final.

"I'm looking forward to the final. I really want to win this title again," said Lin.

Earlier another former All-England champion from China also reached the final. Wang Shixian, the 2011 winner of the women's singles, overcame Tai Tzu Ying, the former Super Series finals winner from Taiwan, by 21-23, 21-12, 21-15.

It was the second time Wang had scored a big win. Yesterday she overcame her compatriot Li Xuerui, the Olympic champion. She will now play either Carolina Marin, the world and All-England champion from Spain, or Nozomi Okuhara, the Super Series finals winner from Japan.

Results:

Men's singles

Lin Dan (CHN x5) bt Xue Song (CHN) 18-21, 21-15, 21-9

Tian Houwei (CHN x8) bt Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (DEN) 15-21, 21-14, 21-14

Women's singles

Nozomi Okuhara (JPN x8) bt Carolina Marin (ESP x1) 11-21, 21-16, 21-14

Wang Shixian (CHN x7) bt Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) 21-12, 21-12, 21-15

Men's doubles

Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa (JPN x6) bt Goh Shem Goh/Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) 21-13, 21-15

Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov (RUS) bt Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR x1) 14-21, 21-17, 21-15

Women's doubles:

Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (JPN x3) bt Luo Ying/Luo Yu (CHN x1) 21-12, 21-19

Mixed doubles:

Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christina Pedersen (DEN x5) bt Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock (ENG x7) 21-13, 22-20

Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto (IND x8) bt Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (CHN x1) 21-18, 21-16